Some doctors question safety of testosterone-replacement therapy


by Andrews Horansky / KHOU 11 News

Posted on May 14, 2012 at 10:47 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 15 at 9:58 AM

HOUSTON— With promises like more energy, and a better sex life, testosterone-replacement therapy is more popular than ever. But how safe is it?

Testosterone replacement therapy has become a billion-dollar business as one of the most sought-after treatments since Viagra.

Some men have called it the fountain of youth, but when it comes to taking testosterone, some doctors are becoming more cautious. They’re discovering problems, including blood clots, infertility and even tumors.

“Cancer has been a concern for men taking testosterone,” said Dolores Lamb, Ph.D, with Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Larry Lipshultz, a urologist with Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine, said everyday he sees a patient coming in asking for testosterone.

“I don’t think there are real risks with testosterone,” he said. “I think what gets mis-communicated is the men who take excess amounts of testosterone, usually from someone who’s not a physician, to achieve unrealistic goals.”

Over-the-counter products promise results for what used to be the signs of aging and treatment facilities are also popping up.

In Houston a company called the Low T Center will soon open a third location.

Dr Lipshultz, however, doesn’t recommend either.

“These so-called T Clinics that are springing up are extremely entrepreneurial. They’re really not targeted for the patients’ health. They’re targeted with a very high profit incentive,” he said.

Low T declined KHOU 11 News’ request for an interview.

Still, Dr. Lipshultz said testosterone treatments change lives and that it is not addictive.

“What I think can become addictive is the good way you feel,” he said.

Spencer Morris, a 24-year-old living in Toronto, knows that for a fact.  He said he was once depressed, but that his doctor discovered he had low testosterone and linked it to genetics.

“I had tried pretty much everything. So I had tried eating a pretty clean diet, I tried avoiding plastics and things with Bisphenol A in it,” he said.

He has documented his experience with testosterone on YouTube, and he suspects some doctors may be prescribing it too easily.

“I think doctors, in general, work in a way where they don’t want to exactly find the underlying cause of something; they’d rather prescribe something,” he said.

Whether that prescription is warranted may very well depend on who you ask.