You may have noticed a lot of commercials aimed at men suggesting that they may candidates for testosterone replacement therapy. Bloomberg News reports that the market for testosterone has passed the $1 billion mark—and may pose a host of risks to men who use it, including heart attacks.
The Mayo Clinic offers more information about testosterone therapy and why it may be prescribed. According to the Mayo Clinic, Testosterone’s primary functions include maintaining a man’s muscle strength and mass, red blood cell production, sex drive, sperm production, fat distribution, and bone density. In addition, Mayo also says that as men age, testosterone production naturally decreases, and that testosterone therapy is not recommended for the treatment of normal aging. The clinic does say, however, that testosterone may be an effective treatment for a disorder known as hypgonadism, which prevents the male body from producing enough testosterone due to glandular problems. Hypogonadism is also known as “low T;” men may be treated for it with any one of a number of testosterone delivery systems, including creams, gels, injections or patches. True symptoms of low T include sleep problems, reduced sex drive, infertility, weight gain, gynecomastia (swollen or tender breast tissue), loss of motivation, and depression.
If diagnosed and confirmed through testing by a physician as low T, symptoms such as these may warrant testosterone therapy. But improperly prescribed testosterone therapy may result in one or more negative side effects in men—some of which can be deadly. As Bloomberg News noted, cardiac disease and heart attacks may be more likely, and the Mayo Clinic concurs. Other negative side effects of testosterone therapy may include acne/skin eruptions, sleep apnea, benign growths on the prostate or further growth of existing prostate cancer, reduced sperm production, and enlarged, feminine-looking breasts.