Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) has become much more commonplace than in years past. Once a treatment for men suffering from a condition known as hypogonadism, where the body doesn’t produce enough testosterone on its own and requires a supplemental source of the hormone, more and more men are being prescribed this treatment for other reasons. Studies have shown that testosterone replacement therapy may offer a wide range of benefits for men with hypogonadism, including improved libido, mood, cognition, muscle mass, bone density, stronger erections, and red blood cell production, and TRT can be easily obtained over the internet, in magazine ads, or through telemarketers who boast it as a muscle producer or erectile dysfunction remedy. However, there could be severe potential hazards associated with TRT.
A recent study at the University of Chicago in Illinois and published in Endocrinology has shown that TRT may be directly linked to prostate cancer. A study was done using rats who had prostate cancer to see what effect TRT would have on the rate of tumour growth. Those who received “slow dose” form of testosterone showed a growth of 10-18pecent, while those using the regular dose had a growth rate increase of 50-71 percent.
The study’s author, Maarten C. Bosland, Phd noted that this does not conclusively prove that TRT will have the same effect in humans, but that it is still quite troubling. Sales of testosterone replacement therapy currently sit at over $2 billion a year, and with no long term studies in humans to show whether or not it could contribute to the rapid growth of prostate cancer, there is a real question as to whether or not it is safe to use.
The FDA is considering requiring drug manufacturers it use better labeling on this medication and to perform studies into its effects on cardiovascular health. So far, isn’t asking for any studies into its effect on prostate cancer. This means that not that much is known about this potentially lethal side effect. What is known is that, in men with prostate cancer, androgen inhibitor therapy can be a very effective way of slowing or even stopping the growth of the tumor. Since many prostate tumors are androgen (e.g.-testosterone) dependant, there is a strong possibility of a link between TRT and the growth of this type of cancer. Unfortunately, as stated above, there are currently no long term studies into the safety of TRT, as its use for purposes other than hypogonadism is relatively new.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men, and is found most commonly in African Americans and those with a family history of the disease. It is also prevalent in those who are obese or have a poor diet. Fortunately, if detected early, it has a survival rate of 95%. As with any cancer, early detection is vital.