Oncologists associate low testosterone levels with obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrom

In a recent announcement, a panel of oncologists made an association between low testosterone in men with diabetes and other health concerns.

Testosterone is an androgen hormone which is produced by the testicles. It happens to be the main male reproductive hormone which promotes and maintains the male reproductive characteristics. However, this hormone is also involved in many other body functions such as strengthening the bones, increasing the muscle mass, and metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in the body.

Let’s take a look at the research-based analysis of how low testosterone levels are associated with obesity, decreased fat metabolism, and metabolic syndrome in men.

How Testosterone Works To Promote Fat Metabolism?

Testosterone is a lipid-reducing hormone. It is involved in the inhibition of lipid uptake in the adipose tissues and increases the activity of lipase in the adipocytes which results in increased fat metabolism. Testosterone also increases the process of lipolysis i.e. breakdown of fat, by enhancing the activity and number of beta-adrenergic receptors which are lipolytic in nature. Other than these actions, testosterone is also involved in the inhibition of adipocyte precursor cells differentiation. Due to the inhibition of adipocyte precursor cell differentiation, the number of adipocytes (fat-producing cells)
decreases in the body. This action further decreases the total body fat of a person [1].

How Testosterone Deficiency Can Lead To Obesity And Other Related Medical Conditions?

When the levels of testosterone are decreased in the body, the process of lipolysis becomes slow, which results in decreased fat metabolism. As a result, there’s increased amount of stored fat in the body which can lead to different lipid-associated medical conditions like obesity, hyperlipidemia, and hypercholesterolemia. High levels of LDL i.e. low density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) is common in all of these conditions which can further lead to other diseases including cardiovascular disorders such as myocardial infarction, hypertension i.e. increased blood pressure, angina, and stroke.

How Is Testosterone Deficiency Associated With Metabolic Syndrome And Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus?

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of physiological and biochemical abnormalities in the body which are associated with the development of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and cardiovascular diseases.

Low levels of testosterone can lead to the development of metabolic syndrome because other than fat metabolism, testosterone is also involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates and protein in the body. There are many testosterone booster supplements on the market that help people maintain healthy levels.

Testosterone works at the molecular level and controls the working of important enzymes which are involved in the major carbohydrate-metabolism processes i.e. glycolysis and glycogen-synthesis cycle. In the process of glycolysis, glucose is broken down by different enzymes which leads to energy generation and formation of pyruvic acid (a non-sugar compound), thereby decreasing the blood glucose levels in the body. In the process of glycogen-synthesis, glucose is converted into its polysaccharide form i.e. glycogen, which happens to be the stored form of glucose in the liver. This process also decreases the blood glucose level in an individual.

Hence, when testosterone levels are decreased in the body, the processes of glycolysis and glycogen-synthesis slow down or become partially inhibited in the body, this leads to an increase in the blood sugar levels which ultimately leads to the development of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus [2].

Scientific Evidence

A scientific research, published in Diabetes Care medical journal, involved analysis of low testosterone levels association with obesity, metabolic syndrome, and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus [3].

The epidemiological studies of the result supported a bidirectional relationship of decreased serum testosterone levels with obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, which can ultimately lead to the development of metabolic syndrome. It was observed that low testosterone levels in the test subjects caused accumulation of intra-abdominal lipid. Also, when testosterone levels were decreased in men with prostate cancer, for the purpose of initiating the androgen-deprivation therapy, it resulted in an increased body fat mass.

Hence, it was concluded from the study that low testosterone levels are directed associated with obesity, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, and metabolic syndrome.

Causes of Low Testosterone Levels in the Body

Age is a natural factor which decreases the amount of testosterone in the body. This decline starts after the age of 30. Some other causes of low testosterone levels include:

  • Infection, injury, or complete loss of testicles
  • Radiation or chemotherapy for cancer treatment
  • Some genetic disorders like Down’s syndrome and Klinefelter’s syndrome
  • Excessive amount of iron in the body i.e. hemochromatosis
  • Malfunctioning of the body’s pituitary gland, which gives the signal for testosterone production to the testicles.
  • Different inflammatory disease like sarcoidosis.
  • Medications used in the treatment of prostate cancer and all corticosteroidal drugs
  • Chronic renal failure or end-stage renal disease
  • Liver cirrhosis and liver enlargement i.e. hepatomegaly
  • Increased anxiety, depression, and stress
  • Smoking and alcoholism

Treatment of Low Testosterone Levels

Testosterone deficiency can be treated via following measures:

  • Intramuscular and subcutaneous injections of testosterone.
  • Use of testosterone gel which is either applied on the skin or inside the nasal cavity.
  • A mucoadhesive material containing testosterone applied above the patient’s teeth twice or thrice a day.

All of these options provide sufficient amount of hormone replacement required by the patient.

Common Adverse Effects of Testosterone Replacement Therapy

When used by healthy individuals, there are no serious adverse effects associated with testosterone replacement therapy. However, some common adverse effects include:

  • Mild fluid retention or edema
  • Oily skin or acne generation
  • Risk of blood clots development
  • Decrease in the size of testicles
  • Mood swings which can lead to aggressive attitude, depression, and anxiety.
  • Increase in the total red blood cell count of the body
  • Decrease in total sperm count

What Can Be Concluded?

In the light of research-based scientific evidence, we can conclude that a person can suffer from different medical conditions which include obesity, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, and metabolic syndrome because of low levels of testosterone in their body. Hence, in such cases, adequate measures must be taken to fulfill this deficiency. Also, only a well experienced and registered medical practitioner should be consulted in this regard to ensure optimum efficacy and safety of the treatment.

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