Life Extension Magazine June 2010
As We See It
Startling Low Testosterone Blood Levels in Male Life Extension Members
By William Faloon
By William Faloon
Aging is accompanied by reduced levels of hormones required to sustain life.
As testosterone levels decline in men, their risk of dying markedly increases.1-3
Heart disease,4-8 osteoporosis,9-11 and muscle wasting12-14 are strongly linked to testosterone deficiency, as are chronic inflammatory15,16 and neurodegenerative disorders.17,18 Most doctors are surprised to learn that men with low testosterone show an increased incidence of prostate cancer.19-25
Long before life prematurely ends, testosterone deficit can manifest in the form of psychological disturbances such as depression,26-29 reduced sexual desire,30-33 and a loss of sense of well being.29,34
We at Life Extension® have long urged male members to have their testosterone blood levels tested. A pooled analysis of 7,619 free testosterone blood tests has uncovered an epidemic of testosterone deficits in male Life Extension members.
The encouraging news is that restoring testosterone to youthful ranges can easily be accomplished at minimal cost.
What are Optimal Free Testosterone Levels?
The number of men who suffer testosterone deficiency is so high that laboratory reference ranges accept ridiculously low levels as “normal.”
We at Life Extension suggest that men maintain their free testosterone in the range of 20 to 25 pg/mL of blood.35 Others with expertise in this area believe free testosterone as low as 15 pg/mL is adequate.36
Conventional blood labs, on the other hand, say aging men are alright with as little as 6.6 pg/mL of free testosterone in their blood—an absurdly low level!
Mainstream medicine’s ignorance regarding the need to maintain free testosterone in the higher ranges is a significant cause of premature disability and death in aging men.
(Note: Free testosterone is the biologically active form of this hormone measured in the blood. Total testosterone blood levels are not as reliable an indicator of an aging man’s testosterone status as free testosterone.)
Life Extension Members Not Immune From Testosterone Deficit
Most people are in a state of denial as to how long nature intends us to live. A 30 to 40 year old man is often shocked when his blood test results uncover strikingly low free testosterone levels.
In our analysis of male members aged 40-49 years, the mean free testosterone blood level was only 12.4 pg/mL. Those aged 30-39 years did not fare that much better, with mean free testosterone levels of only 12.8 pg/mL.
Table 1 below shows how much free testosterone levels decrease with age. Men aged 70 and higher have free testosterone blood levels of only 8.9 pg/mL (Table 1).
As I will explain next, even these disappointedly low numbers are still better than the average population. That’s because many Life Extension members take steps to maintain higher free testosterone levels.
Shocking Percentages of Testosterone Deficiency
I have reviewed hundreds of testosterone blood tests and consistently observed less than optimal levels. When I saw the mean findings from free testosterone blood tests of Life Extension members, I was not totally surprised.
As Table 2 below reveals, only 4.2% of men had high optimal free testosterone blood levels. Another 9.6% of the men were in the mid-range of 15 to 22 pg/mL.
A startling 86% of the men had less than 15 pg/mL of free testosterone, placing them at high risk for virtually every age-related disease.
These findings, obtained from pooled blood test results of 7,619 men, provide an intriguing opportunity to rescue the collapsing health system this country faces. If men start paying as much attention to their testosterone blood levels as they do cholesterol, the incidence of degenerative disease will plummet!
How Testosterone Protects Against Heart Attacks
Most people know that higher blood levels of HDL protect against atherosclerosis and subsequent heart attack. What few understand is the critical role that testosterone plays in enabling HDL to remove built-up cholesterol away from the arterial wall.
HDL removes cholesterol from the arterial wall and returns it to the liver for safe disposal via a process known as reverse cholesterol transport. Testosterone enhances HDL-induced reverse cholesterol transport from the arterial wall.37 That is one of testosterone’s unique and life saving anti-atherosclerotic effects.
While a person can reduce their arterial wall exposure to cholesterol through healthier diets and by taking certain drugs, the average person still synthesizes about 650 mg every day of cholesterol in their peripheral tissues (outside of the liver). If there is any distortion in the HDL-mediated removal of cholesterol (i.e. reverse cholesterol transport) from the arterial wall, the consequence is atherosclerosis.38
Said differently, testosterone is required for optimal transport of excess cholesterol from our tissues and blood vessels to our liver for processing and disposal. In the testosterone-deficient state, reverse cholesterol transport is compromised, and excess cholesterol cannot be removed from the arterial wall.39-41
HDL and free testosterone levels often plummet in aging humans.42,43 The combination of low HDL and low testosterone virtually guarantees an explosion in demand for vascular stents and drugs that earn tens of billions of dollars in profits each year for pharmaceutical behemoths.
Under optimal circumstances, HDL efficiently removes cholesterol from arterial walls and then transports it (via reverse cholesterol transport) to the liver for elimination (mostly through the bile duct into the intestines). When there is a deficiency of testosterone, HDL is less efficient in removing debris from the arterial wall and the liver is less efficient in breaking down cholesterol-laden HDL from the bloodstream.
Armed with this knowledge, you can now see past the charade perpetrated by the medical establishment that still questions the value of testosterone supplementation.
Numerous well-controlled human studies show that higher testosterone levels play a critical role in maintaining healthy blood flow throughout the body by accelerating reverse cholesterol transport—there by helping to prevent atherosclerosis.44,45
Low Testosterone Sharply Increases Coronary Artery Disease Risk
The relationship between low testosterone and increased coronary artery disease incidence has been the featured topic of several covers of Life Extension Magazine® over the past two decades.
One study evaluated men under age 45 who presented with coronary artery disease compared with an age-matched control group. The findings revealed that even moderately reduced free testosterone blood levels (below 17.3 pg/mL of blood) in these younger men resulted in a 3.3-fold greater risk of developing premature coronary artery disease compared with men who had values above 17.3 pg/mL.46
To put this testosterone blood reading in perspective, aging men who don’t use testosterone-boosting nutrients or drugs often have very low free testosterone blood levels (less than 10 pg/mL of blood). These same men often have low HDL blood test readings in the danger zone (less than 40-50 mg/dL). Is it any wonder that despite aggressive use of statin drugs and other advances in cardiac medicine, heart attack and stroke are still today’s leading killers?
Low Testosterone Increases Prostate Cancer Risk
Fear of prostate cancer is the leading reason why aging men have shied away from restoring their free testosterone to youthful ranges. To dispel this concern, Life Extension long ago analyzed every published study and found there is no basis for asserting that testosterone causes prostate cancer.55-60
Our observations from the thousands of blood tests we perform each year for members confirm this. What we found is that men with low testosterone appear to be more likely to contract prostate cancer.
In the landmark book, Testosterone for Life (McGraw-Hill, 2008), Harvard professor Abraham Morgentaler thoroughly discredited the notion that testosterone causes prostate cancer.61
What came as a bombshell to the medical establishment was the compilation by Dr. Morgentaler of scientific facts showing that men with low testosterone levels have an increased percentage of prostate cancer-positive biopsies.62,63
To further help dispel the myth that higher testosterone levels increase PSA levels (and presumably prostate cancer risk), the two charts on the below compiled from our blood test analysis clearly show that as free testosterone levels decline in aging men, their PSA levels sharply increase.
What Are Your Free Testosterone Levels?
While our data analysis of 7,619 blood tests of male Life Extension members showed less-than-optimal free testosterone levels, there was a considerable amount of individual variability.
Some 60-year old men, for example, had relatively youthful (high) free testosterone levels, while others were dangerously low.
An aging male does not have to guess what his free testosterone level is. Blood tests provide an accurate measurement to ascertain if testosterone supplementation is warranted and what dose should be initially used.
Blood tests also measure PSA (prostate-specific antigen) to help rule out prostate cancer. While testosterone does not cause prostate cancer, men with pre-existing prostate malignancy are usually advised to avoid supplemental testosterone until the disease is cured.
Low-cost and Convenient Blood Testing
The high prices that commercial labs charge for comprehensive blood testing precludes most people from having them done.
Life Extension breaks down these price barriers by offering complete Male or Female Blood Test Panels at the lowest prices anywhere. Once a year, we discount the popular Male and Female Blood Test Panels down to only $199—about 80% less than what commercial labs charge. below describes the many tests included in these Male and Female Panels.
Instead of having to make a doctor’s appointment, we send you a requisition form and list of drawing stations in your area where you can go at your convenience.
The Blood Test Super Sale ends June 7, 2010, so please order your requisition kit soon to take advantage of these extra discounted prices. You can have your blood drawn anytime after receiving your requisition kit.
The results of your blood tests are mailed directly to you. If you have any questions, you are welcome to call our health advisor helpline.
Annual blood testing is the single most effective method of detecting abnormalities that can be corrected before they lead to serious illness or death. A call to 1-800-208-3444 is all you have to do to order these comprehensive tests at extra discounted prices.
For longer life,
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