Testosterone (Low-t) Gels
Have you seen the ads promising to cure "low-t"? Testosterone gels have increased in popularity after the pharmaceutical industry has aggressively marketed the gels to older men. The ads suggest that low testosterone, or "low-t", is why older men are tired, less athletic or have a lower sex drive. A New York Times article[i] recently reported that many doctors feel that low testosterone "is in large part an invented condition."
Low testosterone can be caused by any number of reasons, such as chemotherapy, diabetes, gland disorders and liver or kidney disease. In those cases, testosterone gels can legitimately augment or replace natural testosterone in men whose bodies are not producing enough.
Manufacturers of testosterone gels emphasize their more superficial secondary benefits to make them appealing to a broader market. They often downplay their known side effects, including sleep apnea (a known risk factor for heart failure).
Now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating testosterone products[ii] after two studies indicate that low-t can dramatically increase a man's chances of serious health problems. The studies suggest that men face an increased risk of cardiac events, including heart attack, stroke and death. In response, the FDA issued an alert while it continues its investigation. Despite the alert, the FDA has stressed that patients should not stop taking prescribed testosterone products without first speaking with their doctor.
Testosterone gels are sold under the following brand names: