Intracoronary artery infusion of testosterone causes significant coronary artery dilatation and not constriction as previously thought (Webb et al 1999). When degree of coronary obstruction is assessed by angiography, there is a direct relationship between degree of coronary artery narrowing and reduced testosterone levels (Phillips et al 1994). Men with low testosterone levels have been observed to have: premature atherosclerosis, increased visceral adipose tissue, hyperinsulinemia, and other risk factors for myocardial infarction (Phillips 2005). Insulin resistance has been shown to be associated with a decrease in Leydig cell secretion of testosterone (Pitteloud et al 2005). Muller and colleagues suggest that low endogenous total testosterone and SHBG levels increase the risk of metabolic syndrome in aging and aged men. They demonstrated that low levels of testosterone are related to lower insulin sensitivity and higher fasting insulin levels (Muller et al 2005). These authors speculate that testosterone might play a protective role in the development of metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease in aging men.
Why bother with such common micronutrients? Because it's not uncommon for athletes to suffer from zinc and magnesium deficiencies, partly due to inadequate replenishing of levels after intense bouts of exercise. Deficiencies in these key minerals can lead to a poor anabolic hormone profile, impaired immune function, and increased cortisol, ultimately leading to decreases in strength and performance.
Cross-sectional studies have found a positive association between serum testosterone and some measures of cognitive ability in men (Barrett-Connor, Goodman-Gruen et al 1999; Yaffe et al 2002). Longitudinal studies have found that free testosterone levels correlate positively with future cognitive abilities and reduced rate of cognitive decline (Moffat et al 2002) and that, compared with controls, testosterone levels are reduced in men with Alzheimer’s disease at least 10 years prior to diagnosis (Moffat et al 2004). Studies of the effects of induced androgen deficiency in patients with prostate cancer have shown that profoundly lowering testosterone leads to worsening cognitive functions (Almeida et al 2004; Salminen et al 2004) and increased levels of serum amyloid (Gandy et al 2001; Almeida et al 2004), which is central to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (Parihar and Hemnani 2004). Furthermore, testosterone reduces amyloid-induced hippocampal neurotoxity in vitro (Pike 2001) as well as exhibiting other neuroprotective effects (Pouliot et al 1996). The epidemiological and experimental data propose a potential role of testosterone in protecting cognitive function and preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers at Ball State University found that “strength training can induce growth hormone and testosterone release.” (6) Another study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center researched the acute effects of weight lifting on serum testosterone levels. (7) The results concluded that even moderate weight lifting and light weightlifting increased serum testosterone levels in participants.
This herb, used for centuries in foods, even poultices, was reported in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism to have reduced body fat and improved total testosterone levels versus a placebo in a double-blind trial. Fenugreek may also be helpful if you feel your sex drive is on the wane, as other research has found it can boost libido. You can get it in curries (it’s used to flavor them) and teas, or as a supplement in TestroVax, by Novex Biotech, which promises to boost testosterone levels 42% in 12 days. (novexbiotech.com)
A large number of side-effects have been attributed to testosterone. In our clinical experience, the incidence of significant adverse effects with treatment producing physiological testosterone levels is low, and many side effects attributed to testosterone are mainly relevant to supraphysiological replacement. Some adverse effects are specific to a given mode of delivery and have already been described. Potential adverse effects concerning the prostate have also been discussed and require appropriate monitoring of symptoms, PSA and digital rectal examination. Other tumors which may be androgen responsive include cancer of the breast and primary liver tumors, and these are both contraindications to testosterone treatment
Studies have demonstrated reduced testosterone levels in men with heart failure as well as other endocrine changes (Tappler and Katz 1979; Kontoleon et al 2003). Treatment of cardiac failure with chronic mechanical circulatory support normalizes many of these changes, including testosterone levels (Noirhomme et al 1999). More recently, two double-blind randomized controlled trials of testosterone treatment for men with low or low-normal serum testosterone levels and heart failure have shown improvements in exercise capacity and symptoms (Pugh et al 2004; Malkin et al 2006). The mechanism of these benefits is currently unclear, although a study of the acute effects of buccal testosterone given to men with chronic cardiac failure under invasive monitoring showed that testosterone increased cardiac index and reduced systemic vascular resistance (Pugh et al 2003). Testosterone may prove useful in the management of cardiac failure but further research is needed.
Common side effects from testosterone medication include acne, swelling, and breast enlargement in males. Serious side effects may include liver toxicity, heart disease, and behavioral changes. Women and children who are exposed may develop virilization. It is recommended that individuals with prostate cancer not use the medication. It can cause harm if used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
There are valid concerns about the safety of long-term treatment with testosterone particularly with respect to the cardiovascular system and the potential for stimulating prostate cancer development. There are no convincing hard data, however, to support these concerns. If anything, the data strongly suggest that adequate testosterone availability is cardioprotective and coronary risk factors such as diabetes, obesity and the metabolic syndrome are associated with reduced testosterone levels. It is certainly appropriate to avoid giving testosterone to men with prostate or breast cancer but it is not appropriate to accuse testosterone of inducing the development of de novo prostate cancers since evidence for this accusation is lacking (Wang et al 2004; Feneley and Carruthers 2006).
However, some of these signs and symptoms can be caused by factors other than low testosterone, including medication side effects, thyroid problems, depression and excessive alcohol use. There are also conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea, that might affect testosterone levels. Once these conditions are identified and treated, testosterone typically will return to a normal level.