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Is Testosterone supplementation harmful?

by Jon Sterngold MD
(Men’s Hormonal and Preventative Health)

Every media outlet has fallen lockstep in line announcing the results of the JAMA study claiming that testosterone supplementation raises death rates by 30%. Those of us who know the prior research demonstrating clear benefit to T supplementation and who use it in our men’s health practices wondered how this study found increased health risk.

We assumed that something was amiss.

Perhaps critical measurements were not being made and followed – something we do to insure levels are optimal and safe. Maybe too much hormone was being used? What was wrong or is testosterone replacement really as dangerous as the headlines suggest?

Does the 30% increased death rate mean that if we use testosterone we have a 1 in 3 chance of premature death? A critical look at the details of this study reveals that the answer is, no.

The patients in this study were all elderly with known coronary heart disease.

The ones in the control group had a 20% death rate over the study time period and the T treated group had a 26% death rate. The absolute increase in death rate was 6%, not 30%. The treated and control groups were not the same. The treated group actually had a lower average – below normal – testosterone level, which might have made them more susceptible to their ongoing disease regardless of treatment.

Critical measurements were not made and followed – including man hiking estrogen, DHT, and hemoglobin levels.

These matter a lot when allowed to get too high with testosterone treatment. They are tests we order on a regular basis to ensure an optimal health outcome for our patients. But that probably was not an issue because these patients were not even given enough testosterone to help them get their serum testosterone to healthy and protective levels, based on the specific lab reports in the research article.

For a comprehensive analysis and rebuttal to this media frenzy, we refer you to the Paper from Life Extension published November 2013.

We all need to have an open mind about what continued studies reveal but we also have to critically consider the methods used to reach the outcomes presented and compare that with other studies and previously successful treatment methods. That seems to be the very best we can do to expand our knowledge in a wise way. As always, your good health and how we can support you in that, is why we’re here.

To further understanding of the creation of good health!


Jon Sterngold, a graduate of Stanford Medical School, is passionate about fine tuning the health of each individual patient to improve quality of life and delay the toll of aging. He believes that maintaining hormonal balance and utilizing an Integrative Medicine approach are powerful tools to attain maximum health and harmony. Jon focuses on the health and harmony of male patients at our Waterfall Tower office. His training includes Personal Life Coaching, and he is excited to share this process as well.