HOUSTON - Advertisements praising the benefits of testosterone replacement therapy are all over the radio and in newspapers, and those ads are driving men to doctor's offices all over Houston.
Miguel Orejuela, 29, was looking for a way to beef up and build strength.
"I heard rumors, 'Try testosterone, it's going to help you gain weight, it's going to help you do this, OK, just try one cycle. You'll see at least 10 pounds of muscle,'" Orejuela said.
But there are risks associated with testosterone replacement, especially in younger men.
Urologist Dr. Eliecer Kurzer said he's seeing plenty of patients coming in for evaluations, seeking the fountain of youth in the form of a drug or cream.
"We have no studies to show what's going to happen to them 20-30 years down the road," Kurzer said. "The other thing for the young guy when you take testosterone and you don't need it, your body's own supplies will be suppressed and it will stop working."
That in turn can lead to sterility or other side effects, including early onset hair loss, acne, the development of male breasts as estrogen becomes dominant and the potential for prostate cancer.
"Because there's so much doubt and controversy we have to be very selective about who we give it to," Kurzer added.
When Orejuela saw no benefit, he stopped taking the hormones and focused on achieving the results he was looking for through hard work at the gym.
"If you need testosterone boosters, if your levels are low, take it. If you don't need it, it's going to mess you up in the long run," Orejuela said.
Orejuela is not alone. Doctors said lots of men stop taking the therapy because they're disappointed with the results.
Studies do show men suffering from heart failure often do have low testosterone levels. But the research has not shown that correcting those levels reduces the risk of heart disease. Make sure you are evaluated and monitored by a qualified doctor before starting any therapy.
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