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Health & Science

Use Of Artificial Testosterone Triples Among Men Over 40

A new study shows the number of men over 40 who are taking testosterone has more than tripled since 2001. A researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston says the rise in prescriptions parallels an increase in marketing that centers on a problem called "low T."



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You may have driven by a “low T” center in Houston, or heard or seen advertisements like this one:

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Now there’s a study out that seems to suggest a correlation between the marketing and an increase in prescriptions for testosterone.

Jacques Baillargeon is an epidemiologist at UTMB and lead author of the study:

“Between 2001 and 2011, testosterone prescribing to men age 40 and over increased more than three-fold. And what was really interesting was this increase was particularly strong among men in their 40s and 50s, strongest among men in their 40s.  That group had a four-fold increase in testosterone prescribing.”

The most popular form of the drug is a topical cream that men rub on their shoulders.

It’s used to treat low levels of testosterone, which can cause decreased libido, fatigue, and sexual dysfunction.

The Endocrine Society recognizes this as a legitimate disorder, but Baillargeon is concerned that it’s being over diagnosed.

“It looks like a lot of the prescribing is not currently being done in a way that’s consistent with the recommended guidelines.”

Baillargeon’s study showed that a quarter of men who got a new prescription for testosterone never even had the blood test to see if they had low levels of the hormone.

And that could be a public health problem.

“We don’t know the long-term risks, we don’t know the long-term risks particularly for cardiovascular disease or prostate cancer.”

Currently, almost 3 percent of men over 40 are now taking some form of hormone replacement therapy. 

The rate is highest in the South, with almost 4 percent of men taking it.