As men age, it is a well-known fact that their testosterone level declines. The rate of decline is actually about 1-2% per year over the age of 40.
It previously was believed that testosterone was responsible for many health concerns in men such as heart disease, high cholesterol and prostate cancer.
But more recently with the advent of better studies these “beliefs” have been found to be completely false.
Quite to the contrary, testosterone has been found to be health enhancing for men.
When we look at the phase of a man’s life when his health is challenged the most by heart disease and prostate cancer, it is easy to see that for the most part these problems arise in older men, exactly when their testosterone levels are lowest.
Testosterone and Prostate Cancer Research
Abe Morgenthaler MD, is a Urologist and prostate cancer researcher at Harvard Medical School. He runs the Boston Men’s Health Clinic. He was curious about the popular belief of testosterone being associated with prostate cancer. So, for a period of time he would perform a prostate biopsy on every man he was considering placing on testosterone therapy, to ensure that there was no pre-existing prostate cancer.
What he found was astonishing and laid to rest a long-held misconception about testosterone and prostate cancer. For the most part, the men with the lowest testosterone levels not only demonstrated more prostate cancer, but also more prostate illnesses of all kinds.
When I had Dr. Morgenthaler as a guest on my radio blog, I asked him if he thought we could prevent prostate cancer by maintaining optimal testosterone levels as men aged. He said he definitely believed that would work, and then quickly announced he needed to do a study to prove it.
As hormone replacement in general has become more popular with Baby Boomers, and as anti-aging medicine has grown, the use of testosterone has dramatically increased.
What we have noticed in this population of testosterone-boosted men is that not only do they feel better, age better, and lead more active lifestyles, they are also healthier from just about every measurable parameter.
Testosterone is a Health-Enhancing Hormone for Men
I see many men in my practice to be evaluated for testosterone supplementation. The most common complaint is a decrease in libido and fullness of erections.
I believe sexual function is a clear indicator of an individual’s overall general health and robustness.
If you think about it in terms of natural evolution, why would Mother Nature want a man to reproduce if he was not fit and healthy enough to provide food, shelter and safety for his brood?
That is why I believe a man’s libido is like the barometer of his overall health. And boosting testosterone levels makes men healthier from every parameter including prostate health.
My approach to helping men boost their testosterone is multi-faceted and needs to be customized for each man. There is no such thing as “one approach fits all”.
A common problem I see is that often the total testosterone is at a good level. And sometimes doctors not well versed in hormone therapy won’t look any further and will tell the patient that the testosterone is good and is not the cause of the problem.
But if one looks further and checks the FREE testosterone fraction, it is often found to be low. Free testosterone is the fraction of total testosterone that does “all the heavy lifting” of the hormone. It typically comprises 2-3% of the total and should be in a range of about 8-20. I can’t count how often it is overlooked by well-meaning practitioners.
One of the most common causes of a low FREE Testosterone is a rise of Binding Proteins, (also known as sex hormone binding globulin SHBG) which is common in older men due to increases in their estrogens. So, they have a good total testosterone level, but too much of it is bound up on SHBG making it unavailable for the cells of the body to use it.
It is often not easy to lower SHBG and thus free up more testosterone, as it involves significant changes in diet, exercise and lifestyle. I work on this with all my male patients. But a simple trial of a few over the counter supplements may help as well.
Supplements to Help Lower Sex Hormone Binding Proteins
Boron 5-10 mg
Magnesium 500 mg
DIM 200 mg
DHEA 25-100 mg
It is also important to get enough good quality lean protein, avoid sugar, caﬀeine and alcohol. Enough sleep, stress reduction and daily vibrant exercise are also helpful.
This would be a good first step. I’d give it a minimum of about 3-4 months of concerted eﬀort and then retest the blood.
There are a number of other options for men of all ages to raise their testosterone and enhance their overall health.
If you, or someone you know would like to discuss the best options available for them, please call the oﬃce at (310) 393-2333 or book an appointment online.
Blessings, in radiant health. Dr. Howard Liebowitz