The New York Times article about the under the table marketing of testosterone replacement alerted me to the Drive For Five campaign. This website, solely run by a pharmaceutical company, encourages men to have regular checkups. And – during that checkup – why not ask to have your testosterone level checked to see if it is too low? Any by a huge coincidence, the pharmaceutical company that sponsors the website has a product to address that very concern.
The Endocrine Society recommends against screening the general population for low testosterone. The normal range has a huge span and levels fluctuate widely from hour to hour. A man’s level is affected by hunger, fatigue, time of day and how his favorite sports team is doing. It’s not even clear that low testosterone is a health problem.
Testosterone supplements are controlled substances given their potential for abuse. Yes, it is easier to build muscle mass with testosterone but at what cost? There is consensus that the risk of heart attacks may increase; the package insert warns of congestive heart failure. Body hair might increase as scalp hair decreases. Male pattern baldness is labeled as such for a reason.
The best way to increase one’s level of testosterone is to lose weight. Excess blubber, especially around the middle, will convert testosterone to estrogen-like products. Make the most of what you have naturally by eating carefully and committing to a regular exercise program. Short cuts are a short fix.