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March 3, 2009

Preliminary study finds nutritional supplement plus testosterone may help keep seniors out of the hospital

Preliminary study finds nutritional supplement plus testosterone may help keep seniors out of the hospital

A report published in the March, 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition described a study conducted by researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia which found that a combination of testosterone and an oral nutritional supplement may have kept previously undernourished older individuals out of the hospital.

Forty-nine men and women aged sixty-five and older whose nutritional assessment scores categorized them as undernourished were provided with advice on improved dietary intake and were assigned one of the following regimens: oral testosterone undecanoate (80 milligrams twice per day for men and 40 milligrams per day for women), an oral nutritional supplement consisting of 18 percent protein, both testosterone and the nutritional supplement, or no treatment for one year. Participants received regular home visits during which weight, dietary and medication compliance and other factors were assessed.

All participants gained weight by the end of the study. Among those that received the nutritional supplement, grip strength improved. Over the course of the year, 7 men and 6 women had a total of 18 hospital admissions. Four of the admissions occurred among the 12 subjects who received testosterone, 5 occurred in the 13 who received the nutritional supplement, and 9 occurred in the 13 that received no treatment. Among the 11 who received both testosterone and supplemental nutritional therapy, no hospital admissions occurred. Additionally, neither of the two deaths that occurred over the course of the study was among participants who received both treatments.

In their discussion, the authors suggest that testosterone treatment could lower inflammation and stimulate appetite. Proinflammatory cytokines which increase with aging have been shown to inhibit food intake.

"Because hospitalizations are a common and serious event in undernourished older people, this is an exciting finding of considerable potential benefit to many people," the authors conclude. "Larger, confirmatory studies are now needed."

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Health Concern Life Extension Highlight

Male Hormone Restoration

As men age, they begin to experience changes in their bodies. Abdominal fat increases and muscle mass decreases. They also experience a distressing decline in their sex drive. At the same time, the risk of serious health conditions such as depression and heart disease rises. While most conventional physicians (and some members of the lay media) dismiss these woes as signs of “natural aging,” there is often an underlying and identifiable cause of these symptoms—the gradual decline of important sex hormones, especially testosterone.

Too often, men who have problems related to a low testosterone level are advised to treat only the symptoms of their conditions (such as taking antidepressant and/or cholesterol-lowering drugs). Fortunately, progressive physicians, along with the Life Extension Foundation, now recognize the connection between hormones and the diseases of aging. Restoration of youthful hormone levels is associated with optimal sexual function, energy, and vitality, while declining hormone levels correlate with many age-related conditions, including high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes, loss of muscle and bone mass, and fatigue (Shores MM et al 2004).

Bone integrity depends upon a balance between bone formation and bone resorption, which are controlled by multiple factors including estrogen and testosterone (Rucker D et al 2004; Tok EC et al 2004; Valimaki VV et al 2004). One clinical trial has demonstrated that testosterone increases bone mineral density in elderly men (van den Beld AW et al 2000). Testosterone supplementation also has a positive effect on muscle metabolism and strength (Herbst KL et al 2004).

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Dayna Dye
Editor, Life Extension Update
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