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Testosterone Supplements Linked to Increased Risk for Heart Attack

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Washington, DC: A new study on testosterone authored by epidemiologist William Finkle and researchers at UCLA has found a link between the popular male hormone supplement and heart attacks. Finkle and colleagues reviewed insurance claims for more than 55,000 men with a specific focus on the rate of heart attacks within 90 days of starting testosterone. The data showed that among the men aged 65 and older the risk for heart attack more than doubled. The news is worse for men under 65 -- with a history of heart disease --where the risk for heart attack practically tripled.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved testosterone treatment only for conditions linked with so-called "low T" - documented low testosterone levels. However, testosterone is being used by many men without "low T"to treat a variety of symptoms including reduced libido and fatigue. According to a study published earlier this month found 43 percent of men receiving the hormone had a normal level.

"We don't know very much about this therapy," said Dr. Steve Nissen, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic. "What's going on is a giant experiment with American men's health at stake because we don't have the long-term data on the safety of these products."

Prescription sales of testosterone have now surpassed Viagra prescriptions: since 2009 annual prescriptions for testosterone have more than doubled, to 430 million thanks in part to advertisements, reports.

"Once it appears on television, with seductive ads that make men think it's a fountain of youth, you're going to see a lot of off-label usage," Nissen said. The FDA has said that it is reviewing the study as currently testosterone does not carry a warning for heart attack on the label.

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