Low Testosterone Dangers and Side Effects
Testosterone replacement therapy side effects can be extremely dangerous and sometimes even lethal. Androgen-based medications such as AndroGel, Androderm, Striant and Fortesta are aggressively marketed to treat sexual dysfunction, chronic fatigue and sometimes even osteoporosis and diabetes although most of the time these are just normal symptoms of aging. The Big Pharma advertised these medications to the elderly regardless of the potentially dangerous side effects. Many patients who did not need this type of treatment eventually succumbed to the hazardous consequences of an inappropriate prescription, such as blood clots, cardiovascular issues and strokes.
*Please seek the advice of a healthcare provider before discontinuing the use of this medication.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is an androgen steroid hormone that male individuals produce to keep their reproductive organs healthy. By inducing the development of the prostate and testicles, it promotes secondary sexual characteristics such as the growth of beard, body hair, and the shape of the shoulder, chest and jaw. Adequate levels of this androgen stimulate the production of sperm cells and are associated with male sex drive and performance. Due to its anabolic properties, this hormone also plays a critical role in the well-being of muscle and bone tissues by promoting their growth.
Adult men’s testicles produce up to 8 times more testosterone than women’s ovaries, and a smaller quantity is also secreted by the adrenal glands. The blood levels of this hormone slowly decline with aging (usually after the age of 50) due to a phenomenon that is known as andropause. This form of male menopause is substantially different from the feminine counterpart since a gradual reduction of the androgens in men has no detrimental health effects, and it’s usually irrelevant from a clinical point of view.
When testosterone is low (Low-T), symptoms range from reduced energy and sexual drive, a sensation of constant fatigue and, in some instances, psychological issues including depression.
Why is an inappropriate Low-T therapy dangerous?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided clear indications on when Low-T treatment should be recommended. TRT is indicated only in men affected by hypogonadism caused by a testicle, brain or pituitary gland disorder either of genetic origins or induced by chemotherapy. The dangerous side effects associated with inappropriate anabolic steroid supplementation have been largely investigated in medicine. The chance of heart attacks and strokes is increased by 30 percent according to a research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and the drug may also increase the risk of blood clots since it thickens the blood. Another trial was stopped shortly after it begun as soon as the Data Safety and Monitoring Committee found that the incidence of heart attacks was too high to proceed with the experiments.
TRT is not recommended in patients with prostate nodules or breast tumors, due to a possible risk of prostate enlargement and cancer, and in patients with high hematocrit, Class II or IV heart failure or even just obstructive sleep apnea. In 2014, a panel of experts from the Endocrine Society testified before the FDA about the alleged risks associated with testosterone replacement therapy in patients who are not affected by hypogonadism. After reviewing the evidence they provided, the regulatory agency issued a label change on all testosterone-based products to warn about a risk of stroke and cardiovascular issues. More large-scale studies are still required to properly assess all the long- and short-term dangers of this treatment in patients with age-related Low-T.
Today, prescription testosterone sales surpassed $2 million in revenues, with almost 4 percent of American aged 60 and over taking one of these drugs. The Endocrine Society recommends anabolic steroid only in men with clear symptoms of hypogonadism or such as a blood level of this androgen lower than 300 ng/dl. In order to confirm this diagnosis, two separate laboratory testings are also required. According to a study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, more than one-quarter of patients never tested their androgen levels before receiving a prescription. To make everything even more suspicious, Abbott itself produces most machines used in this type of testing.
Article by Dr. Claudio Butticè, Pharm.D.