The widespread use of testosterone injections and patches has come under fire. The use of testosterone for "low-T" nonetheless makes sense for many men.
In some circles, testosterone is almost a dirty word.
Long associated with illegal injections by baseball players accused of perjury and sleazy boxing club owners, testosterone supplementation really does have a downside. In men who don't need it, or when it is used in excess, supplemental testosterone can cause changes in the skin, aggressive behavior, and even dementia. However, used ethically and legally in a medical setting, testosterone can be exactly what a man needs to restore his sex life and in some cases his genitals.
Doesn't Testosterone Cause Prostate Cancer?
Synthetic testosterone has been around for a long time. The male sex hormone was first synthesized in 1935. Just six years later, in 1941, there was a report that testosterone injections could accelerate prostate cancer. This led to nearly 75 years of fear by doctors that giving men who need testosterone would also give them cancer. However, the cancer scare that began in 1941 was based on just one case, and the data for even that one case could be (and should be) interpreted in many different ways. The cancer scare regarding testosterone has never been well founded on clinical evidence. It has been based on the fact that no doctor wants to be that one physician who gave his or her patient prostate cancer. Nobody wants to be the first to make a fatal mistake.
Latest Concern Is About Cardiovascular Risks
While the fear of cancer in treating men with medically administered, limited doses of testosterone has subsided to some extent, there is a new fear that giving men testosterone will cause cardiovascular disease. Readers can find a link to an article about the US FDA warning about testosterone and heart problems below this article. The label on testosterone must now carry a warning about the potential of increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Additionally, in the US, doctors are no longer permitted to prescribe testosterone just because a man is older and his body is not making as much of the hormone. Now American doctors are required to document that a man has testicular or hypothalamic defect (a lesion in the hypothalamus in the brain, usually caused by accumulation of iron in the bloodstream) that is causing his body to make less testosterone. If there is a disease that interferes with the production of the hormone, then it is OK to give injections or the patch.
However, the medical regulatory agencies in Europe and Russia take a different view of the use of testosterone. The mere fact that an older man still wants to feel like a man is considered to be enough reason to give testosterone (in some cases, if he can pay for it). They argue that there is no consistent evidence that testosterone can cause "cardiovascular events," and in fact there isn't.