Testosterone, the Heart, and Lapdog of The New York
A Story From The New York Times
Majid Ali, M.D.
A 98-year-old man asked his doctor to give him the largest testosterone shot he had even given anyone. The puzzled doctor asked,
“Why do you want testosterone?”
“I need it,” the old man spoke urgently.
“But why the largest testosterone shot for you?”
“Because I need it desperately.” The words escaped trembling lips.
“Why are you so desperate?”
“I am marrying a young lady.”
“Twenty years old.”
“I’ve been your doctor for more than forty years. We have to think about this thing,” the doctor spoke softly, not wanting to throw cold water on his the old man’s fires, which he really wanted to.
“There is no need to do any thinking. Just give me the shot and I’ll be on my way,” the old man spoke shifting on his trembling legs.
“Tom,” the doctor spoke gently putting his hand on his patient’s shoulder. “We have to be careful.”
“No need to be careful, just give me the testo shot,” the old man pressed.
“Tom, you are taking two pills for your heart, two for high blood pressure, one for arthritis, one for leg swelling, and one for sleep. We must be …”
“Don’t waste my time, please! I must really hurry up.”
“Tom, I have to caution you against some medical hazards,” the doctor raised his voice.
“What hazards?” the old man scowled.
“Old men have to be cautious when they get together with young women.” The doctor spoke firmly.
“I know. I know. Please get the testo shot ready,” the old man shot back.
“Tom, it can be hard on the heart, indeed it can be very hard on the heart.”
“Tom, you listen to me,” the doctor shook hard the old man’s shoulder, the continued, “On the lungs too. Sex can be hard on these organs.”
“Don’t you think I know this,” the old man rebuked his doctor.
“Tom, I don’t know how to tell you this, but it can be fatal.”
“Fatal?” the old man backed off, stared at the doctor for long moments, then repeated the word fatal.”
“Tom, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry to put it so bluntly but I have to. I have seen deaths occur this way.”
You’ve seen deaths.” The old man stared at his doctor for sometime and spoke in clear loud words, “If she dies, she dies.”
Testosterone Is a Health Hormone
Testosterone is a health hormone, not merely a male sex hormone. As a crucial health hormone, testosterone is essential for heart health as it is for all other muscles in the body – and, of course, the brain and all other body organs. Children with abnormally low levels of testosterone due to genetic causes, such as hypogonadism grow up with serious developmental challenges to muscular development (including of the heart) and other body organs. This, simply stated, is my evolutionary view of the “Testosterone-Heart Connection.” My view is supported by a large body of clinical experience with testosterone supplementation used as a component of integrative, holistic model of improving health.
Does Testosterone Increase the Risk for Cardiovascular Disease?
My simple answer: No, testosterone does not increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. If so , and I anticipate the question, then what might we make of the recent study published in late 2013 in the online journal PLOS One which found higher risk of cardiovascular events in middle-age and older men who received testosterone supplementation? My answer: I am not surprised that men with cardiovascular diseases suffered more heart and brain events. Testosterone is expected to increase the desire of men receiving the hormone to do more to enjoy life, which may pose a hazard for men receiving large doses of heart and brain drugs. This is what the PLOS One study actually reported. And I welcome the study except for one thing: the report did not highlight this crucial aspect of the finding.
Overselling Testosterone, Dangerously
The above was the title of an editorial in The New York Times on February 5, 2014. That did not surprise. Editorials of the Times nearly always reflect only the opinions of drug doctors. The Times journalists, of course, have no personal experience or perspective on complex medical issues which they address. They are not expected to.
I read the Times editorial twice to see if the writer knew anything about the essential point I make above—the special risk faced by heavily drugged men with heart disease and stroke who might be take inappropriately prescribed testosterone supplementation. I was not surprised. There was not a single word written about it. Nor was there recognition of the fact that PLOS study had absolutely no relevance to people without heart disease and stroke who show sharp drops in the blood hormone levels due to stress and environmental toxicities on sequential laboratory testing. This is what knowledgeable and astute integrative do before prescribing testosterone supplementation. But, how would lapdogs of The New York Times know this? They never seek guidance from integrative doctors.
Below are some revealing quotes from the Times editorial:
“A large study has found substantial risks in prescribing testosterone to middle-age and older men for a variety of ailments. One part of the study found that testosterone doubled the risk of cardiovascular disease in more than 7,000 men who were 65 years old or older, essentially confirming findings in previous studies. The other part found that testosterone almost tripled the risk of heart attacks in a group of more than 48,000 middle-age men with previous histories of heart disease. The harm in both cases occurred within 90 days of receiving the prescription..”
Note the words “tripled the risk of heart attacks in a group of men with previous histories of heart disease.
Here is another quote: “The reason seems clear. Drug companies have shamelessly pushed the notion, to doctors and to the public, that their testosterone-boosting product can overcome a supposed disease called “low T,” which is characterized by feelings of fatigue, loss of sexual drive, depressed moods, an increase in body fat and decrease in muscle strength, among other symptoms.” Here I applaud the Times.
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