The use of testosterone supplementation in older men with low testosterone levels is not associated with atherosclerosis progression, nor an improvement in overall sexual function or health-related quality of life. The study findings are published in JAMA.

Shalender Bhasin, MBBS, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and colleagues, conducted a study with 308 men aged ≥60 years old with low to low-normal testosterone levels. The men were randomized to receive 7.5g of 1% testosterone (n=156) or placebo gel packets (n=152) daily for three years, with dose adjustments to achieve levels between 500–900ng/dL. Characteristics between the groups at study initiation were similar: average age 68 years, 42% had hypertension, 15% had diabetes, 15% had cardiovascular disease, and 27% were obese.

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The results showed that the rates of atherosclerosis progression, which was measured by changes in common carotid artery intima-media thickness or coronary artery calcium, did not differ significantly between the two study groups. Among those that received testosterone, changes in intima-media thickness or calcium scores were not associated with change in testosterone levels. In addition, there was no significant difference in sexual desire, erectile function, overall sexual function scores, partner intimacy, and health-related quality of life between the groups.

The authors note that because this trial was not designed to determine the effects of testosterone on cardiovascular disease events, these findings should not be interpreted as establishing cardiovascular safety of testosterone use in older men.

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