Cross-sectional studies have not shown raised testosterone levels at the time of diagnosis of prostate cancer, and in fact, low testosterone at the time of diagnosis has been linked with more locally aggressive and malignant tumors (Massengill et al 2003; Imamoto et al 2005; Isom-Batz et al 2005). This may reflect loss of hormone related control of the tumor or the effect of a more aggressive tumor in decreasing testosterone levels. One study found that 14% of hypogonadal men, with normal digital rectal examination and PSA levels, had histological prostate cancer on biopsy. It is possible that low androgen levels masked the usual evidence of prostate cancer in this population (Morgentaler et al 1996). Most longitudinal studies have not shown a correlation between testosterone levels and the future development of prostate cancer (Carter et al 1995; Heikkila et al 1999; Stattin et al 2004) but a recent study did find a positive association (Parsons et al 2005). Interpretation of such data requires care, as the presentation of prostate cancer could be altered or delayed in patients with lower testosterone levels.
A number of research groups have tried to further define the relationship of testosterone and body composition by artificial alteration of testosterone levels in eugonadal populations. Induction of a hypogonadal state in healthy men (Mauras et al 1998) or men with prostate cancer (Smith et al 2001) using a gonadotrophin-releasing-hormone (GnRH) analogue was shown to produce increases in fat mass and decreased fat free mass. Another experimental approach in healthy men featured suppression of endogenous testosterone production with a GnRH analogue, followed by treatment with different doses of weekly intramuscular testosterone esters for 20 weeks. Initially the experiments involved men aged 18–35 years (Bhasin et al 2001) but subsequently the study was repeated with a similar protocol in men aged 60–75 years (Bhasin et al 2005). The different doses given were shown to produce a range of serum concentrations from subphysiological to supraphysiological (Bhasin et al 2001). A given testosterone dose produced higher serum concentrations of testosterone in the older age group (Bhasin et al 2005). Subphysiological dosing of testosterone produced a gain in fat mass and loss of fat free mass during the study. There were sequential decreases in fat mass and increases in fat free mass with each increase of testosterone dose. These changes in body composition were seen in physiological and supraphysiological treatment doses. The trend was similar in younger versus older men but the gain of fat mass at the lowest testosterone dose was less prominent in older patients (Bhasin et al 2001; Bhasin et al 2005). With regard to muscle function, the investigators showed dose dependent increases in leg strength and power with testosterone treatment in young and older men but there was no improvement in fatigability (Storer et al 2003; Bhasin et al 2005).
The hormone also plays a role in sex drive, sperm production, fat distribution, red cell production, and maintenance of muscle strength and mass, according to the Mayo Clinic. For these reasons, testosterone is associated with overall health and well-being in men. One 2008 study published in the journal Frontiers of Hormone Research even linked testosterone to the prevention of osteoporosis in men.
Opioid substances are in common use both licit and illicit. Opiates are potent analgesics but they are also highly addictive. They are frequently prescribed for both acute and chronic pain and when used chronically, often induce opiate dependence in the user. Pain clinics regularly use narcotic agents in many of their patients. Methadone, in particular, is regularly prescribed to opiate addicts who have entered a program aimed at reducing narcotic dosage and ultimately weaning the patient off it altogether. Most men who are on chronic high doses of an opiate become hypogonadal. This was first recognized in the 1970’s when heroin addicts were found to have suppressed levels of testosterone (Brambilla et al 1977). Also suppressed were LH and FSH pointing to a probable inhibition of GnRH release.
Anabolic–androgenic steroids (AASs) are synthetic derivatives of testosterone that are commonly used among athletes aged 18–40 years, but many reports have demonstrated the presence of numerous toxic and hormonal effects as a result of long-term use of an AAS. Testosterone-foods act as natural libido boosters. Due to the growing interest in herbal ingredients and other dietary supplements worldwide, the use of testosterone boosters is becoming more and more mainstream among athletes, but several side effects were documented. Hence, this study established to help in the assessment of the side effects and health risks which could occur among athletes consuming testosterone boosters.
Nutritional developers formulated Nugenix® with Testofen®, a key natural ingredient to help boost “free” testosterone along with resistance training. This key ingredient is carefully extracted from the fenugreek plant. A Testofen® study in Irvine, California indicated positive free testosterone-related results. Nugenix also includes L-Citrulline Malate, Tribulus, Zinc, plus Vitamins B6 and B12 to help promote overall health and performance.*
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In addition to its role as a natural hormone, testosterone is used as a medication, for instance in the treatment of low testosterone levels in men and breast cancer in women. Since testosterone levels decrease as men age, testosterone is sometimes used in older men to counteract this deficiency. It is also used illicitly to enhance physique and performance, for instance in athletes.
When testosterone and endorphins in ejaculated semen meet the cervical wall after sexual intercourse, females receive a spike in testosterone, endorphin, and oxytocin levels, and males after orgasm during copulation experience an increase in endorphins and a marked increase in oxytocin levels. This adds to the hospitable physiological environment in the female internal reproductive tract for conceiving, and later for nurturing the conceptus in the pre-embryonic stages, and stimulates feelings of love, desire, and paternal care in the male (this is the only time male oxytocin levels rival a female's).
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