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Low Testosterone Increases the Risk of Early Death by 88%
by Barbara Minton
(The Best Years in Life) Andropause is the name given to the change of life for men. This change is not as pronounced as the menopause experienced by women, but it's just as real. Most men don't like to think or talk about it because it makes them seem less manly. They are reluctant to do anything about it, and when they do, it's to ask for a prescription for Viagra rather than attempting to address the underlying causes of their declining energy, weight gain, irritability and failing sexual performance. A recent study may jar them into action. Researchers have found that low testosterone levels in men are associated with high risk of early death from all causes.
From about the age of 30 on, men experience a decrease in levels of their primary sex hormone of approximately 1.5 percent per year.
Declining testosterone is responsible for the symptoms of andropause and is what initiates the mid-life crisis in men. Prescription drugs do nothing to address the real issues men face during andropause. Yet this is a critical time period in their lives, a time during which the seeds for early death are sown.
Large study documents the association between lower testosterone and higher mortality
Researchers at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington at Seattle, evaluated whether low testosterone levels are a risk factor for mortality in men. They studied the relationship between hormone levels and death in a total of 858 males over the age of 40. The men were followed for an average period of 4.3 years, with some followed for the full eight years of the study.
Men in the low testosterone group had an 88 percent increased risk of death compared to the group who had normal testosterone levels. This is a highly statistically significant, jaw dropping result that persisted after the other variables that may have influenced risk of death were considered.
During andropause life slowly drains away
The changes brought by andropause are so gradual they usually go unnoticed for several years. It is as though the life just very slowly drains away. Men who used to come home from work and have active lives with their families, take care of household problems, deal with financial issues, or maybe work a second job, gradually end up spending most of their evenings in front of the TV set or asleep on the couch. When asked why they are not getting their usual responsibilities taken care of, they have no answer except irritability. Since andropause is rarely discussed and often denied, these men have no idea what is happening to them.
There is a cognitive aspect involved with declining hormones in men just like in women. Women are often amazed when their men fail to see the obvious and appear oblivious to much of what is going on. And men and women are equally amazed at his frequent need to urinate.
Men in andropause exercise but see little or no improvement in muscle development or definition. If they can detect any improvement immediately after exercise, it is gone by the next day. Without discernible payback, they gradually give up their exercise along with other aspects of their lives.
A man in andropause will not have the strong morning erections that characterized his youth. He may have the mental desire for sexual activity, but the physical response is not there or is muted. Andropause has a broad affect, impacting hormonal levels, psychology, interpersonal relationships, social activity, sexual activity, and spiritual connectedness. It robs life of its zest.
The traditional medical establishment can only mask the symptoms of andropause
The rare man who is willing to discuss his problems with a physician usually finds that he is given a drug to mask each individual symptom. In addition to the prescription for Viagra, he will most likely be given an antidepressant, another drug to deal with frequent urination, maybe something for the prostate, and a statin drug to bring down the numbers on his cholesterol test. These drugs do nothing to deal with the real issue, which is declining hormone levels. While a man takes these drugs, the loss of testosterone continues to work its mischief behind the scenes.
When hormones levels are sagging, the body is under constant stress. This results in rising cortisol and insulin levels, weight gain, and cardiovascular issues. Declining testosterone is the basis of the heart attacks men so frequently have in middle age. In fact, declining hormone levels are the hallmark during this period of premature death. The death certificate may say the man has died from heart attack or other degenerative disease, but the real cause is hormonal decline and the havoc it creates in the body. As men hit their late thirties and early forties they are approaching the peak of their careers, a time when stress is at its highest. It is also a time period for them when responsibility for family and even aging parents is at its highest. It is a time that requires optimal and balanced hormone levels.
Men deserve a better life
Hormonal loss in men is gradual, and they tend to attribute their symptoms to aging and try to forget about them. But hormonal decline will only continue and lead to the almost inevitable result of poor health and degenerative disease. It is bioidentical hormone replacement that can address this condition successfully and eliminate the root cause of the problems.
Testosterone is an anabolic steroid. It builds bone and muscle. The heart is the largest muscle in the body, and testosterone is critical to keeping it strong and able to do its job. Testosterone keeps the heart healthy by keeping cholesterol and blood pressure normalized. It increases blood flow to the heart, and restores and stimulates testosterone receptor sites in the nerves, blood vessels and genitals. It makes it possible to again build and keep muscle mass when exercising, and it keeps bones strong.
The link between testosterone decline and prostate problems is well established. The prostate is the male equivalent of the female breasts. It has ducts in which testosterone makes food for sperm. When testosterone declines, the loss of this function allows prostate problems to begin. There is no food for sperm, and semen production is reduced. Younger men with their full complement of hormones rarely get prostate cancer or other signs of prostate problems. Their ratio of testosterone to estrogen is in balance, and they are fully functioning sexually.
Prostate disease is not inevitable. Many studies have shown that testosterone replacement keeps prostate disease away. And it can restore in men the sexual vigor they had when much younger.
Traditional medicine in the U.S. is in the grip of the pharmaceutical companies who promote the myth that prostate problems are caused by testosterone, but If that were true young men would be in big trouble! By taking this attitude, pharmaceutical companies can be assured that men will stay in a declining state of health as they age, and they will need a constantly increasing supply of drugs. Bioidentical testosterone is not able to be patented because testosterone is a naturally occurring substance. There is little or no money to be made from keeping men healthy by supplementing their declining testosterone levels. The money is to be made by selling patented drugs to treat an ever expanding list of symptoms that keep men in a state of decline until they need by-pass surgery. Although it is an extremely disillusioning realization, the pharmaceutical companies are in business to make money from disease, not to make people well.
One aspect of hormone imbalance is the conversion of the testosterone older men still have into estrogen. Excessive estrogen conversion is what gives men enlarged breasts. The latest research suggests too much unbalanced estrogen causes excessive proliferation of prostate cells. It is only when testosterone levels decline and conversion of remaining testosterone to estrogen increases that prostate problems appear. In Europe, where medicine is not yet so heavily influenced by drug companies, testosterone is being used to treat prostate cancer with glowing results.
The pot belly and enlarged breasts of middle aged men are a signal that their estrogen levels are too high. Many men over fifty have estrogen levels even higher than those of women that age. This elevated estrogen level along with declining testosterone increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, and leads to inflammation of the prostate and the rest of the body. Too much estrogen can also depress testosterone production, and a man can become estrogen dominate just as a woman can.
Healthy young men produce a small amount of progesterone, another hormone that is essential to their health. Optimal levels of progesterone, along with testosterone, balance estrogen and keep its level low. Progesterone is also a precursor for cortisol and other hormones. When levels of progesterone fall off as men age, levels of other important hormones drop too.
Achieving hormonal balance for men
The art of bioidentical hormone replacement is to replace hormones to the level they were when a man was in his prime, in his early twenties. Testosterone levels can be established by blood and saliva tests. According to hormone replacement specialist Uzzi Reiss MD, the optimal range for men is between 6,000 and 9,000 pg/mL. This is the level at which men can regain much of their prime health. To achieve this level will require the help of a physician who specializes in anti-aging medicine or bioidentical hormone replacement.
Most tradition doctors still don't know much about bioidentical hormones. You might be able to talk one of them into prescribing a hormone drug, but what is needed is bioidentical hormones that are exact replicas of what the body makes naturally. Hormone drugs are just substitutions for hormones; they are not replacements. And if your traditional doctor agrees to prescribe hormones at all, he will probably only want you to take enough to bring you up to the level that is considered normal for your age, not the level that would take you back to your prime. It is only when hormones are replaced to that prime level that vibrant health can again be achieved..
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