Epidemiological studies have found that men with low or low normal endogenous testosterone are at an increased risk of mortality than those with higher levels. Cardiovascular disease accounts for the greater proportion of deaths in those with low testosterone. Cancer and respiratory deaths in some of the studies are also significantly more prevalent. Disease-specific studies have identified that there are higher mortality rates in men with cardiovascular, respiratory and renal diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancer with low testosterone. Obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and inflammatory disorders are all associated with an increased prevalence of testosterone deficiency. Two major questions that arise from these findings are (1) is testosterone deficiency directly involved in the pathogenesis of these conditions and/or a contributory factor impairing the body's natural defences or is it merely a biomarker of ill health and the severity of underlying disease process? (2) Does testosterone replacement therapy retard disease progression and ultimately enhance the clinical prognosis and survival? This review will discuss the current state of knowledge and discuss whether or not there are any answers to either of these questions. There is convincing evidence that low testosterone is a biomarker for disease severity and mortality. Testosterone deficiency is associated with adverse effects on certain cardiovascular risk factors that when combined could potentially promote atherosclerosis. The issue of whether or not testosterone replacement therapy improves outcomes is controversial. Two retrospective studies in men with diagnosed hypogonadism with or without type 2 diabetes have reported significantly improved survival.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.