While low testosterone is not thought to be the cause of poor overall health in men, research has established many links between, “low T” and conditions such as, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis in males with less than adequate levels of the anabolic steroid hormone.
In fact, in one study of 2100 men over age 45, obese males were 2.4 times more likely to demonstrate levels of low testosterone than non-obese males, and diabetic males 2.1 times more likely to demonstrate levels of low testosterone than non-diabetic males.
Osteoporosis—Not Just in Women
Low testosterone is also frequently linked with osteoporosis in men as well. Often under diagnosed until after a fracture has occurred, sex hormones are thought to prevent the loss of bone and stimulate growth. Hypogonadism is the term used to describe low levels of sex hormones, and while it has long been known that a loss of estrogen leads to osteoporosis in women, research finds that a reduction in levels of male sex hormones may also cause osteoporosis.
While men naturally lose testosterone as they age, a sudden drop due to certain medications such as, glucocorticoids, (steroids for asthma and rheumatoid arthritis) and cancer treatments for prostate cancer could lead to bone loss in males as well.
Diabetes and Low Testosterone—What’s the Connection?
For several years the link between men with diabetes and low testosterone has long since been established. This is because the hormone significantly helps the body’s tissues absorb more blood sugar as a response to insulin, and males with low testosterone levels are more likely to have insulin resistance. In other words, their bodies must produce more insulin in order to keep blood sugar levels normal.
Obesity and Low “T”
Men who are obese are also more likely to have very low testosterone. Because fat cells metabolize testosterone to estrogen in the male body, testosterone levels are naturally lowered. Obesity also lowers levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in men, (a protein that carries testosterone in the blood). This results in less testosterone as well.
Metabolic Syndrome—A Series of Medical Concerns
Men with low testosterone levels may also be at risk for developing metabolic syndrome as well, the name given for the condition that includes high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity accompanied by a large waistline, and high blood sugar. As with diabetes, blood sugar levels are impacted by testosterone levels in the blood. Metabolic syndrome is especially dangerous for middle-aged men as it significantly increases the risk for heart attacks and strokes.
While long-range benefits are still not completely known, testosterone replacement therapy has helped improve obesity and blood sugar levels, as well as bone density and loss in men with low testosterone levels.