Washington DC: Testosterone deficiency in men is linked with chronic health conditions, finds a study.
"If we look at data for men from a population level, it has become evident over time that chronic disease is on the rise in older males," says Mark Peterson, lead author of the study.
"But we're also finding that a consequence of being obese and physically inactive is that men are seeing declines in testosterone even at younger ages."
Peterson and colleagues studied this relationship among testosterone, age and chronic disease.
"Previous research in the field has shown that total testosterone deficiency in men increases with age, and studies have shown that testosterone deficiency is also associated with obesity-related chronic diseases," Peterson says.
"But it hasn't been previously understood what the optimal levels of total testosterone should be in men at varying ages, and to what effect those varying levels of the hormone have on disease risk across the life span."
Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the research team examined the extent to which hypogonadism is prevalent among men of all ages.
Of the 2,399 men in the survey who were at least 20 years old, 2,161 had complete information on demographics (e.g., age, ethnicity and household income), chronic disease diagnoses, blood samples obtained for total testosterone, grip strength and lab results for cardiometabolic disease risk factors.
Peterson and team then examined prevalence of nine chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, high triglycerides, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension and clinical depression.
The researchers studied the prevalence of multimorbidity, or when two or more of the chronic conditions were present, among three age groups (young, middle-aged and older men) with and without testosterone deficiency.
They found that low total testosterone was associated with multimorbidity in all age groups -- but it was more prevalent among young and older men with testosterone deficiency.
"We also found a large dose-response relationship between the age-specific low total testosterone and moderate total testosterone levels and multimorbidity, even after adjusting for obesity and muscle strength capacity," Peterson says. "Which means that men should be concerned about declining total testosterone, even if it has not reached a level to warrant a clinical diagnosis (
"A lot of men may not be aware of the risk factors for testosterone deficiency because of their current lifestyle," Peterson says. "And more importantly, that declining levels could be contributing to a silent decline in overall health and increased risk for chronic disease."
The study has been published in Scientific Reports.