“All-cause mortality” or death by all causes has been shown to increase in men who have deficiencies of testosterone. A new study, conducted in Germany, recently came to this conclusion.

In this study, The Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP), the researchers looked at death rates from any cause in almost 2,000 men aged 20 to 79 years. The average follow-up period averaged 7 years.

At the beginning of the study, 5 percent of these men had low blood testosterone levels, defined as the lower end of the normal range for young adult men. The men with low testosterone were older, more obese, and had a greater prevalence of diabetes and high blood pressure, compared with men who had higher testosterone levels.

The study found that men with low testosterone levels had more than 2.5 times greater risk of dying during the next 10 years compared to men with higher testosterone. Age, smoking, alcohol intake, level of physical activity, or increased waist circumference (a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease) was controlled for and did not have explain this significant difference.

They also looked at the cause-specific death rate. An analysis of the men with low testosterone also predicted an increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease and cancer(all cancers) but not death of any other single cause.

The study did not separate out men, or look at men who were on a hormone blockade, but looked at all random sample of men from the general population. So, this leads us to ask, if naturally lower levels of testosterone increases the death rate, what is the effect of androgen blockade therapy?

This research clearly points to an androgen blockade increasing our potential to die from non prostate cancer causes. Does an androgen blockade protect us from prostate cancer, but increase our risks for death from “all causes?” The answer is probably yes, but as is typical with prostate cancer, we have no idea of the weighted values of either side of the equation.

From ScienceDaily (June 21, 2008)

Joel T Nowak, MA, MSW