The Endocrine Society’s physicians have joined a growing chorus of warnings about the mushrooming use of testosterone drugs over concerns that a significant number of men are putting themselves at unnecessary risk of heart attacks.
The society issued a public statement of concern about the safety of the medications until large-scale trials can be completed.
“Until more information on the risks of testosterone becomes available, older men who have pre-existing heart disease should be particularly careful about testosterone,” said one of the statement’s co-authors, Dr. Shalender Bhasin, of the Harvard Medical School.
What the Endocrine Society and researchers in other medical studies have found is that a large number of men are risking heart attacks because they are taking medications for uses which are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA has approved medications Androgel, Androderm, Axirom, Bio-T-Gel, Delatestry, Depo-Testosterone, Fortesta, Striant, Testim and Testopel for a specific condition: hypogonadism, a condition in which the testicles do not produce enough testosterone.
The problem is that as they age, all men suffer a loss of testosterone after the age of 30 and they also, over the decades, lose energy, muscle mass and libido. Read more here.
The researchers are finding that large numbers of men prescribed the medications are not suffering from hypogonadism and are instead just trying to ward of the normal aging process.
The risks of using the medications for non-approved treatments can have catastrophic results.
Reuters News Service reported that in January, findings from a PLOS ONE study of more than 55,000 men suggested those with a history of heart disease roughly double their heart attack risk in the first 90 days on testosterone therapy.
Another study looking at male patients from the Veteran Affairs system linked testosterone to an increased risk of death, heart attack or stroke, according to the story.
Meanwhile, the FDA announced that it is investigating the risk of stroke, heart attack, and death in men taking FDA-approved testosterone products.
“We have been monitoring this risk and decided to reassess this safety issue based on the recent publication of two separate studies that each suggested an increased risk of cardiovascular events among groups of men prescribed testosterone therapy,” the FDA said in its health alert announcement.
“We are providing this alert while we continue to evaluate the information from these studies and other available data, and will communicate our final conclusions and recommendations when the evaluation is complete.”