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Well yeah ... Testosterone cuts incidence of metabolic syndrome

June 20, 2009

[caption id="attachment_522" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Steve Rast lifting heavy at CrossFit Games NE Qualifier by Arianne D\'Entremont"]Steve Rast at CrossFit Games NE Qualifier by Arianne D'Entremont (CrossFit Boston)[/caption]

A new study shows that testosterone therapy can help middle aged and older men (with testosterone deficiency) to reverse many of the markers of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is diagnosed as the concurrence of abdominal fat, high blood triglycerides (fats), high blood sugar and high blood pressure.

Of the 47 men who met the criteria for a diagnosis of the metabolic syndrome at the beginning of the study, 36 (77 percent) no longer had the diagnosis after 2 years of treatment, the authors reported. Furthermore, liver function significantly improved during the first 12 to 18 months of therapy and stabilized for the remainder of the study period. Treatment also greatly decreased blood levels of C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation that is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. “We conclude that testosterone therapy in men with testosterone deficiency can largely improve or even remedy the metabolic syndrome, which will most likely decrease their risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” Saad said.

What wasn't noted was that exercise could provide all of these benefits as well (operating through basically the same pathway). Studies show that lifting heavy weights, using multi-joint lifts like squats, cleans and deadlifts, over several sets results in increased natural testosterone production as the body responds to the stress of this training.

Here's a question with an obvious answer. What would be healthier, to raise testosterone levels through exercise or to take an external replacement?

2 Responses

Carl Chipman
Carl Chipman

June 20, 2009

I suspect the answer is “both”. Use the medicine to short term raise testosterone levels, and then develop a good regime of lifting.


June 21, 2009

Carl — You’re right. For the folks who fit the criteria of the study, the best path forward would likely be to begin with supplementation and then add exercise in on top of that.

For the rest of the world, this is a good cautionary tale. If you’re active and exercising regularly, then there’s a much reduced chance you’ll suffer from metabolic syndrome.

Based on this study, the natural production of testosterone in response to exercise seems to be a likely contributing factor in better health.

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