Higher testosterone levels may help protect elderly men from dangerous falls, a new study finds. Researchers found that older men with the lowest levels of testosterone in their blood were 40% more likely to fall and to have multiple falls than men with the highest levels of testosterone. Falls are a leading cause of bone fracture in older populations.
The association between falls and testosterone levels was strongest in men ages 65 to 69. The link was not apparent in men over age 80. Testosterone levels naturally decline as men age.
A research team from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland studied nearly 2,600 men, ages 65 to 99.
The participants gave blood samples and filled out questionnaires on their medical history, medications, and lifestyle habits. The men also performed physical fitness tests.
At the end of the five-year study period, 56% of the men had fallen at least once. The link between falls and testosterone levels was apparent, even after the researchers factored in the men's scores on the physical performance tests.
That suggests that low testosterone levels may raise falling risk in other ways, including impairment of vision, thinking and coordination, the researchers said.
"These findings strengthen the link between testosterone and the health of older men," the team wrote. They added that testosterone measurements might be useful for identifying men at higher risk for adverse events.
"Moreover, these results provide additional justification for trials of testosterone supplementation in older men and should aid in the design of those studies," they said.
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