In a new study, researchers found that testosterone therapy may double a man’s risk of suffering a potentially life-threatening blood clot.
They found that men had twice the risk for a deep vein blood clot if they’d been receiving testosterone during the previous six months.
The increased risk occurred whether or not a man had the low-testosterone condition known as hypogonadism, but appeared to be more pronounced in middle-aged men than in seniors
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Minnesota.
The “low-T” fad caused testosterone prescriptions to soar early in the 21st century, increasing more than 300% between 2001 and 2013, the study authors said in background notes.
The fad faded in 2014 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that testosterone therapy increases a man’s risk of heart attack and stroke.
However, more than 1 million U.S. men over 30 received testosterone therapy in 2016.
Research suggests it’s still being prescribed to some who don’t suffer hypogonadism, a condition in which the body isn’t producing enough of the male hormone.
In the study, the team analyzed insurance claims for nearly 40,000 men filed between 2011 and 2017.
They focused on men who experienced either deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.
Pulmonary embolism occurs when a deep vein clot breaks free and travels into the lungs, blocking some or all of their blood supply.
They found that men without a low-testosterone condition who took the hormone had 2.3 times the risk of developing a deep vein clot within six months.
Men diagnosed with hypogonadism had 2 times the risk.
They also found that risk might be even greater in middle-aged men taking testosterone to battle aging, although those findings were not statistically significant.
The team says that testosterone poses this risk because it “revs up the consistency of the clotting factors in the blood.
The hormone increases red blood cell count, which thickens the blood and makes it flow more sluggishly. Testosterone also amps up the action of platelets, the blood cells responsible for forming clots.
These findings should cause men to think twice about asking for testosterone treatments to battle normal symptoms of aging.
Men who must receive testosterone therapy due to hypogonadism should be closely monitored for blood clots.
The lead author of the study is Rob Walker, a graduate research assistant at the School of Public Health.
The study is published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
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