Testosterone Use Surges Among Middle-Aged Men
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An increasing number of men are using testosterone to boost their libidos and feel younger, researchers report. According to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) by men over 40 tripled between 2001 and 2011. “It’s become a near-epidemic proportions, what we’re seeing in our clinics,” says Dr. Edmund Sabanegh, the chairman of urology at the Cleveland Clinic. The "wonder drug" helps build muscle, reduce body fat and improve sex drive, and is recommended specifically for men with abnormally low testosterone levels—a condition called hypogonadism. But the study shows just half of the men treated with the hormone were diagnosed with hypogonadism; a quarter of them weren't even tested for low testosterone before being treated. Researchers blame ads that promote TRT and the growing availability of walk-in clinics. "This trend has been driven, in large part, by direct-to-consumer marketing campaigns that have targeted middle-aged men and the expansion of clinics specializing in the treatment of low testosterone or 'low-T centers,'" says Dr. Jacques Baillargeon, lead author of the study and an associate professor in preventive medicine and community health at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Experts say too much of the hormone raises the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer, and the New England Journal of Medicine warns that only about 2% of men older than 40 should be using it. But sales are still expected to triple from $1.6 billion in 2011 to $5 billion by 2017. One TRT user, 57-year-old Chris Running, 57, gives the "wonder drug" his glowing endorsement: "When I get out of the shower and look in the mirror, I’m impressed because I look frickin' awesome.”