Men and Andropause: Part 3
By NBH, Education Director and CEO of NBH Lifetime Health
Hypogonadism (low testosterone) and Heart Trouble
Low testosterone levels have also been implicated in playing a role in the development of chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis and cardiovascular heart disease. One study found that, in assessing a group of men and postmenopausal women over 50 years of age for levels of various hormones as they might relate to health conditions, plasma estradiol levels were highest in hypertensive men and testosterone levels were lowest in men with coronary heart disease. The researchers conclude that perhaps, “Decreased testosterone and/or increased estradiol may have an adverse effect on lipid profile in elderly men.”
Another study conducted among a male population likewise reported that low testosterone may be a risk factor for coronary heart disease, which may relate to lipoprotein metabolism by endogenous testosterone. Results showed that mean plasma testosterone levels among patients with coronary heart disease were significantly—about 40%—lower than in healthy subjects. Moreover, there was a negative association between plasma testosterone levels and plasma triglyceride levels and lipoprotein (a), which translated into higher blood lipid levels relative to lower testosterone levels. Contrarily, a positive association between plasma testosterone levels and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein 3 cholesterol meant that higher testosterone levels equaled higher “good” cholesterol levels.
The Natural Aging Factor
It is well documented in research that sex hormones such as testosterone are vital components in the sexual development of pubescent males, as well as contributing to the increase of their muscle and bone mass as they transform from boys into men. Meanwhile, dwindling testosterone levels as a result of metabolic aging trigger the opposite kind of effects, including the loss of body hair and progression of male pattern baldness, loss of muscle and bone mass, and increased fat.
Low testosterone levels aren’t just the prospect of a small segment of the male population but rather, they tend to affect the male population as a whole. Natural aging causes a gradual decline in male hormones, so that by age 70, men have less than a quarter of their optimal testosterone levels. Some figures reveal that free testosterone levels start to fall at the age of 25. While men with normal testosterone levels sometimes exhibit some of the symptoms, which may very well stem from other causes besides hypogonadism, the fact that androgen therapy usually alleviates these symptoms suggests a hormonal deficiency as the root cause of such deterioration in health.
Many study results show a positive role in maintaining adequate testosterone levels in aging males. In terms of overall body composition, for example, research has demonstrated a measurable increase in lean body mass and in mid-arm circumference and the decrease in waist-to-hip ratio in elderly men, after they received androgen replacement therapy to treat their low testosterone levels.
Environmental toxins may affect testosterone
There’s evidence that chemicals in the environment known as endocrine disrupters may be causing a decrease in testosterone. Endocrine disrupters interfere with the normal functioning of the endocrine system. Scientists in Britain have done research in rats on the estrogen-mimicking chemical HPTE, which is a metabolite of the commonly used pesticide methoxychlor. These scientists have shown that HPTE causes a decrease in, testosterone production from Leydig cells. Other compounds, such as those found in plastic bottles that hold everything from bottled water to laundry detergent, are man-made mimics of estrogen. This may be one of the reasons why we are seeing more young males with low levels of testosterone.
NBH Lifetime Health Lab Tests
It is recommended that all males over the age of 35 be tested for their levels of free testosterone, total testosterone, estradiol and DHEA. We also suggest the standard tests for cholesterol as well as tests for the major heart factors including homocysteine, fibrinogen, and CRP.
I would like to thank Dr. Edward Rosick, an austin hormone provider for some of the scientific material contained herein.