May 2, 2016 — The BBC reports that researchers have found a possible link between testosterone and heart disease.
The study was published in Scientific Reports on April 20 and investigated testosterone in mice. The results were compared to tissues from humans with heart disease.
They found that mice who were given testosterone had more bone-like calcium deposits — evidence of calcification. However, mouse cells that were engineered so they could not respond to testosterone produced far less calcium deposits.
Calcification is a process in which the arteries harden and thicken. It increases the workload on the heart, interferes with heart valves opening and closing, and is a powerful predictor for heart attack and stroke risk.
Dr. Vicky MacRae of the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, said the study might lead to much-needed treatments because there is currently no way to prevent calcification. She said:
“Calcification is particularly difficult to treat, as the biological processes behind the disease are similar to those used by our body to make and repair bone.”
Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, cautioned that significantly more research is needed to understand what the results mean for people with heart disease or those who use testosterone therapy.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States, but it does not affect both sexes equally. Men tend to develop heart disease between 7-10 years earlier in life than women, suggesting that sex hormones might play a role.
However, the link between testosterone therapy and cardiovascular events remains controversial. However, recent studies have found that testosterone doubles the risk of heart attack for men older than 65. Over 5,250 lawsuits have been filed by men who experienced heart attacks or strokes after using products like AndroGel.