Low Testosterone Increases Mortality Risk

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Levels below 8.7 nmol/L associated with death due to CVD and cancer.

SAN FRANCISCO—Low serum testosterone levels may be associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular causes and cancer, independent of age and other risk factors, according to a recent population-based study. Thus low testosterone may be a predictive marker for these causes of death.

In the past few years, studies have linked low testosterone levels with an increased risk of mortality among older men. Population-based studies to examine this association have been limited, however.

German investigators examined data from 1,954 men recruited for the prospective-based Study of Health in Pomerania. At baseline, men were aged 20-89 years with known serum testosterone levels. Investigators defined low testosterone as a level less than 8.7 nmol/L. During an average follow-up of 7.2 years, a total of 226 deaths occurred.

Men with low serum testosterone levels were significantly older and had greater adiposity, the re-searchers reported. The prevalence of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome was higher in this group compared with men who had normal testosterone levels.

After adjusting for age, BMI, waist-to-hip ratio, smoking habits, high-risk alcohol use, and physical activity, the researchers found that men with low testosterone levels had a 2.6 times greater risk of dying during the next 10 years compared with men who had higher testosterone levels. When the investigators looked at cause-specific mortality, they found that low testosterone levels were significantly associated with death due to CVD and cancer, but not to respiratory disease or other causes.

“There have been some previous studies looking at this, but they produced conflicting results,” said lead investigator Robin Haring, PhD, a post-doctoral student from Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University of Greifswald Institute for Community Medicine, Greifswald, Germany. “We were not surprised, though, to find this.”

Findings were presented here at The Endocrine Society's annual meeting.

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