Testosterone supplements linked to increased heart attack risk in men

New research suggests a link between testosterone supplements and heart attacks. USA Today reports that the study, published in PLOS One, found that “taking testosterone therapy doubled the risk of heart attack among men over age 65 and nearly tripled the risk in younger men with a history of heart disease.”

This research, “which involved 56,000 men, is the latest in a series of studies raising concerns about the heart attack risk from testosterone therapy, whose popularity has ballooned in recent years.”

On its website, NBC News reports that “to be sure,” the researchers “compared the men getting testosterone to those getting prescriptions for erectile dysfunction drugs, as the two groups are similar in many ways.” The investigators found that the ED medications “only very slightly raised the risk of heart attack.”

The New York Times “Well” blog reports, “By itself, the new study, which was not a randomized trial … ‘may not tell us very much,’ said Dr. Michael Lauer, the director of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, who was not involved in the study.”

However, added Dr. Lauer, “when you put this together with the rest of the medical literature, this tells us that we potentially have a problem.” Meanwhile, “in a statement, Andrea Fischer, an FDA spokeswoman, said the agency is reviewing the new findings.”

On its website, TIME reports that although it is unclear “why testosterone can harm the heart, some studies suggest that it can lower levels of HDL, or good cholesterol, and therefore increase the risk of heart disease.”

Meanwhile, on the CBS News website, CBS’ Dr. Jon Lapook writes that a “possible way testosterone might be causing problems is by increasing clotting within arteries supplying the heart.”

Forbes contributor Ed Silverman points out that these “findings come amid years of aggressive promotion of testosterone treatments.”

Research “published last fall in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that annual prescriptions for these elixirs rose more than five-fold from 2000 to 2011, reaching 5.3 million prescriptions.”