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Diet and exercise plus testosterone improves glucose control in men with low testosterone and newly diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes

Image: Diet and Excercise

At the end of 2009 the American Journal of Andrology published the results of a clinical trial investigating the effects of diet and exercise (D&E) with and without the addition of testosterone given as gel absorbed through the skin, on 32 men with lower than normal levels of testosterone, and with recently diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes and indicators of potential heart disease (Metabolic Syndrome).

Key Findings

  • Testosterone levels, glycosylated haemoglobin (also known as HbA1c – an indicator of glucose control over 4-6 weeks), fasting plasma glucose, high-density lipoprotein (or ‘good’) cholesterol, triglyceride (blood fat) concentrations, and waist circumference all showed positive improvement in both groups after 52 weeks of treatment
  • In the group receiving additional testosterone there were significant further improvements in these measures compared with the group taking D&E alone. By the end of the 52 week treatment period more than 80% of the D&E with testosterone patients no longer met the criteria for Metabolic Syndrome. This compared to just over 30 per cent of those treated by D&E alone
  • The study also confirmed that the 12 months administration of testosterone appeared to be safe.

Source: Fifty-two week treatment with diet and exercise plus transdermal testosterone reverses the Metabolic Syndrome and improves glycemic control in men with newly diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes and subnormal plasma testosterone. AE Heufelder, F Saad, M Bunck, and L Gooren. November/December 2009. Journal of Andrology;30:(6);726-733.

Background information

The benefits of testosterone replacement on sexual function, fat and lean body mass, blood lipids and bone density in men with low testosterone are well known. The potential benefits of testosterone replacement (in men with lower than normal testosterone levels) in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes are still being investigated.

Testosterone is an essential hormone, produced in the testes in a man, which helps to keep our minds and bodies functioning properly.

Low testosterone levels in adult men is known as hypogonadism and can occur at any age.

Metabolic syndrome (Met S) is a group of characteristics linked to being overweight or obese: three or more of these together is sufficient for a diagnosis of Met S. The characteristics are:

  • A large waistline
  • A higher than normal fat level in the blood – the so-called 'triglyceride level'
  • A lower than normal HDL ('good') cholesterol level
  • Higher than normal blood pressure
  • Higher than normal blood sugar

People with Met S are at greater risk of heart disease and diabetes. It is also associated with poor sexual and personal well-being.

Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to meet the body’s needs because of inefficient use of insulin (known as ‘insulin resistance’) and subsequent failure to compensate for this by making enough extra insulin. Insulin helps glucose enter the body’s cells where it’s a vital ‘fuel’. If the body cannot move insulin into cells, then it builds up in the blood.

Glucose comes from digesting carbohydrate and is also produced by the liver. Carbohydrate comes from what we eat and drink including starchy foods such as bread, pasta and potatoes; fruit; some dairy products; and sugary foods.

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Last updated: 2019