Older men who have higher levels of testosterone tend to lose less lean mass muscle. The loss is especially pronounced in older men who lose weight, says a study conducted by Oregon's Kaiser Permanente Northwest. The men with higher testosterone levels also retained more lower body strength.
The loss of muscle mass and strength contribute to frailty in senior citizen. Reduced muscle mass is connected with falls, fractures, and limited mobility. Men lose more muscle mass than women as they age, which suggests that sex steroids, including testosterone, may contribute to body composition and changes in physical function. The study attempted to understand the relationship between testosterone levels and healthy aging. It found that higher testosterone levels may help maintain muscle mass in older men and delay frailty.
"Our study finds that men, aged 65 years and older, with higher testosterone levels lost less muscle mass, especially in their arms and legs, than men this age who had lower testosterone levels," said Erin LeBlanc, M.D., of Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland, Ore. and lead author of the study. "Men who had higher testosterone levels before they lost weight also lost less leg function and could stand up more easily from a chair than men who had lower testosterone levels before they lost weight."
In this study, researchers used data from 1,183 men aged 65 years or older with an average follow-up of 4.5 years. Body composition was measured using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans. Physical performance was measured through a series of exercises that evaluated grip strength, lower extremity power, walking speed, and the ability to rise from a chair without the use of arms.
"Our study adds evidence to the growing body of literature that suggest higher levels of endogenous testosterone may be favorably associated with some key components of healthy aging in men," said LeBlanc.