Don’t inject hormones

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine compared the outcomes of using topical testosterone treatments to injectable testosterone treatments. As you know, neither are safe. But one form was far more dangerous than the other, as I’ll explain in a moment.

I often warn about the dangers of artificial testosterone treatments. Increasing evidence shows they raise a man’s risk of suffering heart disease and prostate cancer.

Plus, most men just don’t need artificial testosterone. Waning testosterone is a natural, protective part of male aging. Maybe it’s nature’s way of protecting us from heart and prostate diseases, and keeping us healthy.

But some doctors give these inappropriate treatments to young and middle-aged men with normal hormone levels. In fact, I worked with the New Jersey State Attorney General (now Lieutenant Governor of that state) to put irresponsible doctors out of business who were giving these dangerous and expensive treatments to men who didn’t need them.

Plus, according to the FDA, more than 25 percent of the men who receive testosterone treatments never had their testosterone levels tested. So we don’t even know if the men had low levels from the start.

Furthermore, many treatments result in testosterone levels above the normal physiologic range. And the FDA doesn’t require doctors to monitor these outcomes. So many doctors don’t follow-up. In fact, doctors never follow up with more than 30 percent of their patients to monitor the resulting testosterone blood levels.

These figures reveal a huge epidemic of irresponsible medical practice using dangerous and largely inappropriate drugs.

Plus, injecting anything puts you at added risk.

Remember the compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts that sold contaminated steroid injections? The contaminated needles killed scores of people and sickened more than 700 others? I just heard, buried in the news, the pathetic Massachusetts courts quietly awarded bankruptcy protection to the pharmacy. This maneuver will allow the pharmacy to sidestep the fines and damages they owe to all their misguided, but unsuspecting victims. Where is the outrage that was there back when people were dying?

It turns out injecting testosterone hormones is much riskier as well.

According to the new JAMA study, which followed 544,115 men, injectable testosterone causes far more harmful outcomes than simple topical gels.

Compared to men using topical testosterone treatments, men who got injections were 26 percent more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or unstable heart angina within just one year of starting treatment compared to men who used gels. They were also a whopping 34 percent more likely to die within just one year.

Of course, this study didn’t look at the increased risks in men getting any testosterone treatments compared to men who didn’t use testosterone treatment at all. Those numbers would be even more staggering, I’m sure.

We already know any testosterone treatment increases health risks, so injecting it just piles more risk on top of more risk.

But why?

Well, we know men slowly absorb testosterone through the skin when using topical testosterone. By comparison, when men use injectable testosterone, they experience a large surge in blood testosterone levels. And it turns out these surges carry a higher risk of health problems over the short-term.

Unfortunately, fewer and fewer men seem able to resist these questionable hormone treatments. They don’t know about the dangers and can only see the promise of everlasting youth.

So when the doctor tries to open a vial of testosterone for injection, you should just say, “put away your package doctor.”


“Comparative Safety of Testosterone Dosage Forms,” JAMA Internal Medicine, ( 5/11/2015