Overweight middle-aged men who contemplating testosterone therapy might want to first hit the gym or try a new diet. New research shows losing weight can significant boost levels of the male hormone in men with testosterone deficiencies.
The study, presented at The Endocrine Society's Annual Meeting in Houston last week, found weight loss can reduce the prevalence of low testosterone levels in overweight, middle-aged men with prediabetes by almost 50 percent.
"Doctors should first encourage overweight men with low testosterone levels to try to lose weight through diet and exercise before resorting to testosterone therapy to raise their hormone levels," said researcher Dr. Frances Hayes, with St. Vincent's University Hospital, Dublin.
The new study involved nearly 900 overweight middle-aged men with prediabetes. Because overweight men tend to have low testosterone, Hayes and her colleagues studied the effect of weight loss on their levels of the male hormone, which can cause reduced sex drive, low sperm counts and other symptoms.
The men were divided into three groups. About one-third were given the diabetes drug metformin, another third increased exercise levels and switched to low-calorie diets, and a third were given inactive placebo pills. Men who made changes to diet and exercise significantly boosted their testosterone levels after just one year, while those receiving metformin or a placebo experienced no changes.
Men in the lifestyle modification group also lost an average of about 17 pounds.
"Losing weight not only reduces the risk of prediabetic men progressing to diabetes but also appears to increase their body's production of testosterone," Hayes said.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Association.