High BMI, Low Testosterone, and Cancer In Men Are Linked

A new study sheds light on the link between low testosterone and cancer, diabetes, and high body mass index (BMI) in men over the age of 70.

An international research team led by scientists from the University of Western Australia conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 11 studies comprising data from more than 25,000 men.

They analyzed concentrations of sex hormones testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and estradiol, which were measured using mass spectrometry.

The study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, found that testosterone concentrations did not differ with age until 70 years, after which hormone concentrations dropped. At the same time, luteinizing hormone (LH) concentrations increased, suggesting that testicular production of testosterone was impaired.

"It is possible that this is an intrinsic effect of aging, with impairment of testicular function in men above that age," says corresponding author Bu Yeap, MBBS, FRACP, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Western Australia.

Testosterone concentrations were notably lower in men with higher BMI or a history of cancer or diabetes. Whereas married, less physically active, former smokers, or those with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease (CVD), or taking lipid-lowering medications had only slightly lower testosterone concentrations.

Lower testosterone is not only associated with decreased sexual function but also with a range of health issues in aging men, such as higher risks for diabetes, dementia, and death.

Yeap says that men can be treated with testosterone, but only when there is a clear medical reason, for example, health conditions affecting the pituitary gland or the testis. Such treatment should be conducted under medical supervision.

"In older men, more generally, lower testosterone levels can be linked to health risks and poorer health outcomes. If men have symptoms or are concerned, they should visit their doctor for a medical assessment. Men can be advised to engage in healthy lifestyle behaviors, as this should help their own bodies to maintain testosterone production," he told Healthnews.

The new study shows an association between low testosterone and cancer, diabetes, and high BMI in older men. Nevertheless, the authors say additional research on the health implications of reduced testosterone production in this population is needed.

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