Men: Save your strength

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: March 29th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Some side effects of aging may not be inevitable after all.

Specifically, by making certain lifestyle choices, men may be able to slow the natural decline of the male hormone testosterone.

Testosterone is responsible for maintaining bone and muscle strength as well as regular sexual function. It normally declines gradually as men age.

But a new study by the New England Research Institutes in Massachusetts indicates that the typical decrease in testosterone levels can speed up dramatically in some men who experience health or lifestyle changes.

Researchers tracked the health of more than sixteen-hundred Boston area men ages forty to seventy for about seventeen years. They found that men who gain weight and have even a small increase in their body mass index can experience a rapid drop in testosterone levels… to levels more commonly associated with someone ten years older.

The effects of that drop in testosterone, the researchers say, appeared to be as great or greater than the effects of short- to mid-term aging.

Some activities associated with a drop in testosterone were out of the men’s control, like the death of a spouse. But other factors, like excessive alcohol use and lack of exercise, were things the men could change.

The study findings appeared recently in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The results are potentially good news for many men, who, the authors suggest, can avoid a precipitous decline in testosterone by making healthy lifestyle choices.