Testosterone is a hot new marketing fad, and a new product from Abbott Labs, Androgel, is being shilled to aging men seeking to put a bit of a spring in their step as markers of advancing age such as a diminished libido and receding hairline begin to appear.
An increase in testosterone is said to prevent such circumstances, and aging boomers are a big market for lotions, potions, and pills to stave off the effects of Father Time. But, as testosterone is increasingly marketed as a way to stay on the top of one’s game both in the sack and outside it, doctors remain skeptical the gels and other supplements are a worthwhile health expenditure for men hoping to get a few more seconds of vitality on the clock.
Dr. Sergei Romashkan heads up clinical trials for the National Institute on Aging for the National Institutes of Health, and Romashkan says that, while the testosterone gel product sells, there is no evidence indicating that it is of any specific benefit to men seeking to mitigate the effects of testosterone decline.
“The problem is that we don’t have any evidence that prescribing testosterone to older men with relatively low testosterone levels does any good.”
But Dr. Spyros Mezitis, a hormone specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, says testosterone gels are one of many things aging men are willing to try to reduce the impact of decreasing testosterone levels:
“People are living longer and want to be more active … They no longer consider that because they’re older they shouldn’t have sexual intercourse.”
The jury is still out on whether testosterone replacement gels like Androgel and their ilk pose any sort of risk to men, and a 2008 study demonstrated no noticeable benefit to the therapy. More research from a long-term study is expected in 2014, and Abbott Labs says:
“Abbott believes that the long-term effects of testosterone replacement therapy should be studied, which is why we continually fund and support additional clinical trials, such as the National Institute of Aging’s testosterone trial.”
Sales of testosterone products like Androgel have increased 90 percent in the last half-decade.