Low T vs. High Risk
I saw a new word recently: “manvertisement.” It refers to advertising spots on television and in print media for products which appeal to men, especially those who want to “be the man they used to be.” Manufacturers of everything from potions that promise to stop hair loss to gels that purport to boost testosterone level are banking – literally – on men’s fear of aging. Some of the products may be effective, but some expose men to serious health risks. Low-T treatments are in the latter category.
Several studies have found testosterone therapy could be dangerous for some men. One, published in November 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found a link between testosterone therapy and an increased rate of heart attack, stroke and death. The group of veterans they studied who were receiving treatment for low testosterone had a 30% higher risk of serious heart trouble than the test group not on such drugs.
Another study, published online January 29, 2014, in the journal PLoS One, concluded that the risk of heart attack doubles after treatment starts for men under 65 who have heart problems and for all men over 65.
Prompted by the recent findings, the FDA has decided to reassess the safety of testosterone drugs. Their Safety Announcement says the agency will continue to evaluate the information from these studies and others currently underway. Meanwhile, the specialists in hormonal therapy at the Endocrine Society issued a statement February 17 calling for more large-scale randomized controlled trials to determine the risks and benefits of testosterone therapy in older men and recommending that middle-aged and older men should be warned of the increased cardiovascular risks. They also conclude that it may not be “prudent” to prescribe testosterone drugs for anyone who has had a heart attack, stroke or acute coronary event in the preceding six months.
And the adverse consequences of low-T treatment may not be limited to coronary issues. The February 2014 Men’s Health Watch from the Harvard Medical School reports that “some physicians also have a lingering concern that testosterone therapy could stimulate the growth of prostate cancer cells.” They warn that men at high risk for prostate cancer and those with severe urinary problems from prostate enlargement should approach testosterone therapy with extra caution.
Prescriptions for low-T therapy have more than doubled since 2006. More than 5 million prescriptions for testosterone were written in the United States in 2011. Pharmaceuticals are a giant industry in this country, and with the aging of our population, they are going to be seeking FDA approval of age-related products at an increasing pace.
As we await more evaluation of the dangers associated with testosterone therapy, we must balance carefully the difficulties of low T with the high risks of treating it.
At McNeely Stephenson, we have been successfully litigating personal injury cases since 1981. If you or your loved one has suffered a heart attack, stroke or coronary complication after taking a drug for low testosterone levels, call Mike Stephenson, Indianapolis medical malpractice attorney. He can be reached at 1-855-206-2555 or by filling out our online form.