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Testosterone Levels Linked to Mortality Rates

Update Date: Nov 20, 2013 01:50 PM EST

Testosterone-charged men may get all the ladies, but a new study reveals that they may also die younger.

While researchers have long known that low testosterone levels can signal health problems, the latest findings reveal that men may not benefit when testosterone levels rise too high.

Testosterone is an important male sex hormone that maintains sex drive, sperm production and bone health.

The study revealed that older men whose testosterone levels were in the middle tended to live longer.

"Older men who had testosterone in the middle range survived longer than their counterparts who had either low or high levels of the hormone," lead researcher Bu Beng Yeap, MBBS, FRACP, PhD, of the University of Western Australia, said in a news release.

"When the body metabolizes testosterone, it produces dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is tied to a lower risk of dying from ischemic heart disease. Having the right amount of testosterone and higher levels of DHT might indicate these men are in better health overall, or it could help them maintain good health as they grow older," Yeap explained.

The latest study involved data from a group of 3,690 community-dwelling men between the ages of 70 to 89 in Perth, Western Australia.

The men's testosterone and dihydrotestosterone levels were measured between 2001 and 2004, and the study analyzed the group's survival rate as of December 2010.

They divided the men into four groups based on their testosterone levels. The study revealed that the men with the lowest testosterone levels had the highest cumulative mortality rate, followed by the men with the highest testosterone levels. However, those in the middle tended to live longer.

"Sex hormones are an important predictor of mortality in older men, but we haven't determined if treatments to change testosterone and DHT levels can alter these outcomes," Yeap said.

"Additional research into these findings, including randomized clinical trials, could help identify ways to leverage this information to improve health in older men," Yeap added.

The findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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