Epidemiological data has associated low testosterone levels with atherogenic lipid parameters, including lower HDL cholesterol (Lichtenstein et al 1987; Haffner et al 1993; Van Pottelbergh et al 2003) and higher total cholesterol (Haffner et al 1993; Van Pottelbergh et al 2003), LDL cholesterol (Haffner et al 1993) and triglyceride levels (Lichtenstein et al 1987; Haffner et al 1993). Furthermore, these relationships are independent of other factors such as age, obesity and glucose levels (Haffner et al 1993; Van Pottelbergh et al 2003). Interventional trails of testosterone replacement have shown that treatment causes a decrease in total cholesterol. A recent meta-analysis of 17 randomized controlled trials confirmed this and found that the magnitude of changes was larger in trials of patients with lower baseline testosterone levels (Isidori et al 2005). The same meta-analysis found no significant overall change in LDL or HDL cholesterol levels but in trials with baseline testosterone levels greater than 10 nmol/l, there was a small reduction in HDL cholesterol with testosterone treatment.
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.
Sergeant Steel ran into trouble here because it contains Shilajit — a type of plant-based resin. Shilajit is banned in Canada because the Canadian government found heavy metal levels when investigating the ingredient. Shilajit is hard to find, and sensitive to water and variations in temperature, so most manufacturers mix it with additives to make it more stable. Research at Boston University School of Medicine found that “nearly 21 percent of 193 ayurvedic herbal supplements [...] contained lead, mercury or arsenic,” and included shilajit on the list of contaminated ingredients. Even though Sergeant Steel lists its shilajit is “purified,” it doesn’t offer any third-party testing to confirm whether or not their shilajit contains heavy metals, and so we cut it.
“This study establishes testosterone levels at which various physiological functions start to become impaired, which may help provide a rationale for determining which men should be treated with testosterone supplements,” Finkelstein says. “But the biggest surprise was that some of the symptoms routinely attributed to testosterone deficiency are actually partially or almost exclusively caused by the decline in estrogens that is an inseparable result of lower testosterone levels.”
Longjack, also known as Tongkat ali and pasak bumi, is a shrub hailing from Southeast Asia purporting to improve libido. It’s gaining traction in the scientific community for potentially increasing testosterone levels, and researchers at South Africa’s University of the Western Cape found that longjack improved testosterone levels and muscular strength in physically active seniors (a population with typically low testosterone).
Caffeine. Use caffeine moderately. Too much of the jittery juice increases cortisol, which decreases testosterone. Moreover, consuming caffeine late in the day hurts sleep, which lowers testosterone production. But one recent study indicates that caffeine consumed before working out may boost testosterone levels and help you exercise more efficiently. During my experiment I popped a piece of caffeinated gum five minutes before my workouts. Each piece had 100 mg of caffeine, about the same amount in a cup of coffee. That was usually it for my caffeine intake that day.
Although some men believe that taking testosterone medications may help them feel younger and more vigorous as they age, few rigorous studies have examined testosterone therapy in men who have healthy testosterone levels. And some small studies have revealed mixed results. For example, in one study healthy men who took testosterone medications increased muscle mass but didn't gain strength.