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Testosterone Therapy May Raise Risk Of Heart Attacks, Stroke, Study Finds

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Low-T is back in the news, but the latest isn’t a boost for the testosterone business. Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing men taking testosterone therapy had a 29% greater risk of death, heart attack and stroke than those not on the hormone replacement.

[More from KERA News: High Times For ‘Low T’: Inside A Testosterone-Fueled Phenomenon]

In the last decade, the percentage of men being treated for low testosterone more than tripled, according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch. It’s never been easier to start testosterone replacement therapy – there are gels, patches, shots, even tablets. Despite the plethora of options for taking testosterone, there is still little medical research on the effects of hormone replacement therapy in men.

The UT Southwestern study included 8,709 men with low testosterone levels who underwent coronary angiography — a special X-ray test done to find out if your coronary arteries are blocked or narrowed. Researchers found the number of patients with heart problems such as strokes and heart attacks three years after their tests was 25.7% for those who were on testosterone and 19.9% for those not taking the hormone supplement.

“These findings raise concerns about the potential safety of testosterone therapy,” the authors write. “Future studies including randomized controlled trials are needed to properly characterize the potential risks of testosterone therapy in men with comorbidities.”

Testosterone therapy is so popular, prescriptions for it reached 5.3 million a year in 2011, according to the study.

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.