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Testosterone May Protect Against Atherosclerosis

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Testosterone May Protect Against Atherosclerosis

Testosterone May Protect Against Atherosclerosis

September 23, 2005

By: Diana Barnes-Brown for Veins1

Despite previous evidence to the contrary, new findings suggest that the male hormone testosterone may actually help to protect middle-aged men against atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of the arteries that is a precursor to several life-threatening disorders including heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

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Risk factors for atherosclerosis:

Obesity

High-fat diet

Smoking

Sedentary lifestyle

High blood pressure

High cholesterol levels

Elevated stress levels

Age

Ethnicity (people of African American, South Asian and Native American heritage have increased risk)


Researchers from Finland and the United Kingdom recently reported that middle-aged men who have normal testosterone levels seem less vulnerable to atherosclerosis. This data contradicts prior findings in animals that suggested male hormones actually encouraged the condition.

Dr. Olli T. Raitakari of the University of Turku in Finland reported that his collaborative clinical studies had shown that testosterone might protect elderly men from atherosclerosis.

Raitakari and fellow investigators compared a group of 99 men whose testosterone levels had declined with 140 men whose levels had remained normal. They found that the thickness of the wall of the carotid artery in the neck was much higher in the low testosterone group than in the normal testosterone group.

After figuring in the differences caused by variance in age, blood pressure and other risk factors, the investigators still found that the thickness of the artery wall increased as testosterone levels decreased.

“Our findings confirm that in healthy middle-aged men normal testosterone levels are protective against atherosclerosis,” said Raitakari. “Previous studies in elderly men, obese men and in men with diabetes have similarly suggested that testosterone levels are inversely associated with atherosclerosis.”

He added that more research is needed to further explore the implications of the research, including controlled studies that investigate the effects of testosterone supplementation.

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