Men on long-term testosterone appear to have a higher risk of cardiovascular problems, like heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart disease. For example, in 2010, researchers halted the Testosterone in Older Men study when early results showed that men on hormone treatments had noticeably more heart problems. "In older men, theoretical cardiac side effects become a little more immediate," Dr. Pallais says.
Ghlissi, Z., Atheymen, R., Boujbiha, M. A., Sahnoun, Z., Makni Ayedi, F., Zeghal, K., ... Hakim, A. (2013, December). Antioxidant and androgenic effects of dietary ginger on reproductive function of male diabetic rats [Abstract]. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 64 (8), 974–978. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23862759
Now that we know chronic insulin spikes lead to lower Testosterone production, I hope I haven’t sent you running into the low carb camp! There are a few studies out there showing that long term low carb or ketogenic dieting leads to higher cortisol levels (especially with subjects who are training), and decreased testosterone levels (28 & 29). I have used low carb diets in the past with successful results (winning a national bodybuilding title), however the key is to use cyclical carb re-feeds. If you’re going to go on a low carb diet for whatever reason, be sure to work in a large carb reefed once a week.
A blood test may not be enough to determine your levels, because testosterone levels can fluctuate during the day. Once you determine that you do have low levels, there are a number of options to take. There are synthetic and bioidentical testosterone products out on the market, but I advise using bioidentical hormones like DHEA. DHEA is a hormone secreted by your adrenal glands. This substance is the most abundant precursor hormone in the human body. It is crucial for the creation of vital hormones, including testosterone and other sex hormones.
Epidemiological data has associated low testosterone levels with atherogenic lipid parameters, including lower HDL cholesterol (Lichtenstein et al 1987; Haffner et al 1993; Van Pottelbergh et al 2003) and higher total cholesterol (Haffner et al 1993; Van Pottelbergh et al 2003), LDL cholesterol (Haffner et al 1993) and triglyceride levels (Lichtenstein et al 1987; Haffner et al 1993). Furthermore, these relationships are independent of other factors such as age, obesity and glucose levels (Haffner et al 1993; Van Pottelbergh et al 2003). Interventional trails of testosterone replacement have shown that treatment causes a decrease in total cholesterol. A recent meta-analysis of 17 randomized controlled trials confirmed this and found that the magnitude of changes was larger in trials of patients with lower baseline testosterone levels (Isidori et al 2005). The same meta-analysis found no significant overall change in LDL or HDL cholesterol levels but in trials with baseline testosterone levels greater than 10 nmol/l, there was a small reduction in HDL cholesterol with testosterone treatment.
Binge drinking on the other hand does impact Testosterone levels – especially on a short term basis. Two studies (22 & 23) show that large acute quantities of alcohol consumption in a short period led to decreases in Testosterone levels by a whooping 20-23% after 24hours! Note however this is drinking to extreme excess! Likewise, chronic alcohol abuse is known to reduce testosterone more notably (as seen in alcoholics).
Although some men believe that taking testosterone medications may help them feel younger and more vigorous as they age, few rigorous studies have examined testosterone therapy in men who have healthy testosterone levels. And some small studies have revealed mixed results. For example, in one study healthy men who took testosterone medications increased muscle mass but didn't gain strength.