The consequences of low testosterone levels (aka low-T) have been primarily investigated in middle-age and older men. However, low-T in young men aged 20-39 years can confer health risks as well...
Low total testosterone levels are associated with an adverse blood lipid profile, which includes high TG and low HDL, [1, 2] and a decline in total testosterone levels predisposes men to increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality.[3-7]
In a notable study 1468 men aged 20–79 years were followed for 5 years to investigate if baseline total testosterone levels might be related to future development of an adverse cholesterol profile (aka dyslipidemia). When all age groups were analyzed as whole, those men with the lowest total testosterone levels at baseline were found to have an increased risk to develop an adverse lipid profile by 28% compared to the men with the highest baseline total testosterone levels.
More interestingly, age-specific analysis revealed that young and middle-aged men (20–39 years) with the lowest baseline total testosterone levels had the highest risk of a future adverse cholesterol profile. Compared to age-matched men with the highest baseline total testosterone levels of 663 ng/dL or higher, those with the lowest baseline total testosterone levels of 418 ng/dL or below had up to a twofold, greater risk of developing an adverse cholesterol profile, which in turn could contribute to future cardiovascular disease.
This study shows that testosterone levels have health implications for men of all ages. Since testosterone treatment has beneficial effects on blood lipids and cardiovascular risk factors in men with testosterone deficiecy [9-11], this study underscores the importance of early detection and treatment of low-T in men, regardless of age.
- Agledahl, I., et al., Low serum testosterone in men is inversely associated with non-fasting serum triglycerides: the Tromso study. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis, 2008. 18(4): p. 256-62.
- Makinen, J.I., et al., Endogenous testosterone and serum lipids in middle-aged men. Atherosclerosis, 2008. 197(2): p. 688-93.
- Haring, R., et al., Low serum testosterone levels are associated with increased risk of mortality in a population-based cohort of men aged 20-79. Eur Heart J, 2010. 31(12): p. 1494-501.
- Morris, P.D. and K.S. Channer, Testosterone and cardiovascular disease in men. Asian J Androl, 2012. 14(3): p. 428-35.
- Wu, F.C. and A. von Eckardstein, Androgens and coronary artery disease. Endocr Rev, 2003. 24(2): p. 183-217.
- Lin, J.W., et al., Metabolic syndrome, testosterone, and cardiovascular mortality in men. J Sex Med, 2011. 8(8): p. 2350-60.
- Araujo, A.B., et al., Clinical review: Endogenous testosterone and mortality in men: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2011. 96(10): p. 3007-19.
- Haring, R., et al., Prospective association of low total testosterone concentrations with an adverse lipid profile and increased incident dyslipidemia. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil, 2011. 18(1): p. 86-96.
- Saad, F., Androgen therapy in men with testosterone deficiency: can testosterone reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease? Diabetes Metab Res Rev, 2012. 28 Suppl 2: p. 52-9.
- Saad, F. and L.J. Gooren, The role of testosterone in the etiology and treatment of obesity, the metabolic syndrome, and diabetes mellitus type 2. J Obes, 2011. 2011.
- Traish, A.M., et al., Long-term testosterone therapy in hypogonadal men ameliorates elements of the metabolic syndrome: an observational, long-term registry study. Int J Clin Pract, 2013.
Medical Writer & Nutritionist
University of Stockholm & Karolinska Institute, Sweden
Baylor University, TX, USA
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