A new US study suggests that low testosterone levels may increase the risk of death in men over 50. Men with lower levels have a 33% increased risk of death over an 18-year period than those with higher levels.
The co-author of the study, Professor Elizabeth Barrett-Connor does not recommend that men use testosterone supplements. The author, Professor Gail Laughlin, assistant professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego said that lifestyle may determine testosterone levels, which may be altered by lowering obesity.
The researchers noted that men with lower testosterone levels are three times as likely to have 'metabolic syndrome'. This is the collective term for a cluster of risk factors that are associated with heart disease and diabetes. The risk factors are waist measurement over 40 inches, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
According to Professor Richard Sharpe from the MRC Human Reproductive Sciences Unit in Edinburgh, research has shown that levels of testosterone in men of all ages are falling. He also said:
"Being obese lowers the available testosterone and that makes you more obese so it's a vicious cycle.
"Testosterone gives you a zing. If you have low testosterone it tends to make you less active."
Professor Sharpe recommends that instead of using testosterone supplements, men should maintain their testosterone levels by keeping a good body shape.