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Testosterone may protect against atherosclerosis

HeartMay 17, 05

Contrary to the thinking in some circles, middle-aged men who maintain normal testosterone levels appear to be protected against hardening of the arteries, Finnish and UK researchers report.

Despite findings from animal studies that suggest that male hormones encourage build up of plaque in the arteries, clinical studies “have suggested that testosterone may protect elderly men from developing atherosclerosis,” said Dr. Olli T. Raitakari of the University of Turku.

“Our findings confirm in healthy middle-aged men that normal testosterone levels are protective against atherosclerosis,” the investigator said.

Raitakari and colleagues compared 99 men (average age of 58 years) whose testosterone levels had declined with 140 “controls” who had normal testosterone.

The thickness of the wall of the carotid artery in the neck was significantly higher in the men with low testosterone than that in controls, the researchers report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

They found that after taking into account age, blood pressure and other factors, the artery wall thickness increased as testosterone levels decreased.

“The evidence overall,” concluded Raitakari, “is starting to show that normal testosterone levels in aging men are good for the heart. These data indicate that controlled studies are needed to study the effects of testosterone supplementation.”

SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, May 17, 2005.

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