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High Testosterone Levels Linked to Heart Problems

A new study links high testosterone levels to cardiovascular conditions in men. The researchers found an association between a genetic predisposition for high testosterone levels in men and blood clots, heart failure, and heart attacks.

The findings raise questions about whether testosterone supplements marketed to improve sex drive and energy might entail health risks.

Professor Mary Schooling (Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy) is an author on the study, which was published in BMJ. The research looked at genetic variations in nearly 400,000 participants of the UK Biobank in order to predict levels of endogenous testosterone (testosterone made by the body) in each person. The researchers used self-reports and hospital records to find out whether participants had suffered from heart conditions.

The genetic analysis method the researchers used, called Mendelian randomization, is better suited to determining a cause-and-effect relationship than other methods.

The association between high testosterone and cardiovascular issues was not as strong in women, though the authors noted more research is necessary to say whether these results explain why women have lower rates of heart problems than men.

Figuring out the relationship between testosterone and heart conditions might also shed light on ways to improve cardiovascular health, perhaps by lowering testosterone levels. “Targeting testosterone provides a timely new avenue for preventing ischemic cardiovascular disease at a time when the development of new preventative treatments targeting lipids and inflammation has delivered little despite very substantial investment,” said Schooling.