Testosterone could be the magic weight-loss drug that men are looking for. Then again, it might not. A new study shows that obese men receiving testosterone shots lost weight, but doctors are divided on the value of the results.
Over the course of five years, obese men on hormone replacement therapy lost an average of 35 pounds each. Their body mass index also dropped from 34 to 29, moving them from the obese to overweight category. This coincided with improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as lower blood pressure.
The results are impressive, but some doctors doubt that it’s time to start ordering testosterone shots for obese men. The preliminary study, presented at the European Congress on Obesity, has yet to appear in a peer-reviewed journal, and was also sponsored by Bayer, which makes testosterone supplements.
Testosterone levels start to drop in most men between the ages of 40 and 50, with some men—like the ones in this study—complaining of symptoms like erectile deficiency, fatigue and lack of energy. Testosterone replacement therapy is sometimes prescribed for these conditions. Low testosterone has also been linked to obesity.
In this study, men were prescribed testosterone shots because of their low hormone levels. Researchers also noticed that they lost weight during the study, although it’s unclear whether this is a direct result of the hormone therapy. Normalizing the men’s testosterone levels could have increased their energy levels, which may have led to increased physical activity and weight loss.
The good news is that, in this study, testosterone therapy wasn’t linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
It is too soon, however, to say that the hormone is a “miracle weight-loss drug.” Larger, more rigorous studies are needed.