It is normal for men’s testosterone levels to decrease slightly as they age. But low levels — less than 300 nanograms per deciliter — can make it difficult for men to feel healthy.
Testosterone is an important hormone in the male body. It is found in women, too, but men produce eight to 10 times more testosterone than women. The hormone is needed in men to help maintain muscle mass and strength, as well as bone mass and strength. Testosterone also helps to maintain a healthy libido, and mental and physical energy levels.
Medical experts estimate that one out of every four men over the age of 30 has low testosterone levels. Research also reveals that only one out of every 20 men, however, actually shows clinical symptoms related to testosterone deficiency.
Now U.S. researchers have discovered that aging men with cancer are at an even greater risk for low testosterone levels. The research team tested more than 400 men with cancers that were unrelated to testosterone. Nearly half the men had total testosterone levels below 300 nanograms per deciliter.
The researchers also found that the men in the current study with low testosterone also tended to be overweight or obese and scored lower on a scale that measured quality of life compared to men with normal testosterone levels.
There have been numerous studies that have documented the consequences of low estrogen levels in women who have been treated for breast cancer, but this is the first time a study has investigated low testosterone in men living with cancer.
The researchers hope the results from this test will lead to assessments of testosterone levels in male cancer patients, becoming part of long-term care for survivors.
Is there anything you can do to protect against low testosterone levels and avoid having to take testosterone treatments?
Eat healthy food choices, but watch out for low-calorie diets. Over the long term, eating fewer calories than you need for your body weight will lower your testosterone levels.
Animal protein seems to be linked with higher testosterone levels. Try to add some lean beef, poultry, fish, and pork to your weekly diet. You don’t need to eat red meat every day — just enough to keep your levels up. Protein is important for healthy testosterone levels, but too much can have a negative effect.
Zinc is an important mineral when it comes to maintaining testosterone levels. Keep your levels up by eating foods high in this mineral.
Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are all known to lower levels of estrogens in the body. Estrogens can block the production of testosterone — so you want to help keep them in check by eating these veggies.
One last thing to consider — alcohol can increase the rate at which testosterone is converted into estrogen. Remember to drink in moderation.