Testosterone replacement therapy has been used to help aging men deal with a number of different symptoms—including low energy levels, depression, irritability, and a low sex drive. However, researchers now believe that the use of this treatment can lead to a whole host of complications, with one of the most pressing being an increased risk of brain damage. In light of these new findings, the benefits of testosterone replacement therapy are dwarfed by its potential negative health effects.
What is the Link Between Testosterone Replacement Therapy and Brain Damage?
Men who have low testosterone are already at risk of brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s, due to a phenomenon called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress produces molecules known as free radicals which can damage the cells of the brain and lead to things like loss of memory and cognition.
It’s known that testosterone helps fight against the oxidative stress of free radicals, but now researchers have discovered that an excess of testosterone can actually make things worse. In a study performed by scientists at the University of North Texas, they found that anywhere from twenty to thirty percent of men have either no reaction to testosterone replacement therapy or have a negative one—including brain damage and dementia. Interestingly, researchers concluded that testosterone replacement therapy only poses these risks to Caucasian men.
What Are the Other Risks of Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
There are numerous risks associated with testosterone replacement therapy. In addition to a higher risk of brain damage and dementia among Caucasian men, researchers have also discovered that testosterone replacement therapy can lead to a host of cardiovascular problems as well. In January of 2014, the Food and Drug Administration began an investigation into the potential risk of heart attack, stroke, and death among men undergoing the treatment.
In one study cited by the investigation, men undergoing testosterone replacement therapy were almost thirty percent more likely to experience heart attack, stroke, or death. In another, scientists found that men over 65 increased their risk of heart attack by two hundred percent during the first 90 days of treatment.
Since these findings have come to light, the companies responsible for testosterone replacement therapy have come under scrutiny for not adequately informing potential users about the risks of the procedure as well as recommending it to men who wouldn’t necessarily benefit from it in the first place.