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J Intern Med. 2006 Jun;259(6):576-82.

Low testosterone levels are associated with carotid atherosclerosis in men.

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1
Department of Medicine, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway. johan.svartberg@unn.no

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To study the relationship between endogenous sex hormone levels and intima-media thickness (IMT) of the carotid artery measured by ultrasonography.

DESIGN:

Population-based cross-sectional study.

METHODS:

Sex hormone levels measured by immunoassay, anthropometric measurements and IMT was studied in 1482 men aged 25-84 years participating in the 1994-1995 Tromsø study. The data were analysed with partial correlation, multiple linear regression and logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS:

Linear regression models showed that total testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin levels, but not calculated free testosterone, serum oestradiol or dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate levels were inversely associated with the age-adjusted IMT (P = 0.008 and P < 0.001 respectively). These associations were independent of smoking, physical activity, blood pressure and lipid levels, but were not independent of body mass index (BMI). Excluding men with cardiovascular disease (CVD) did not materially change these results. In a logistic regression model adjusted for the confounding effect of CVD risk factors, men with testosterone levels in the lowest quintile (<9.0 nmol L(-1)) had an independent OR = 1.51 (P = 0.015) of being in the highest IMT quintile.

CONCLUSIONS:

We found an inverse association between total testosterone levels and IMT of the carotid artery in men that was present also after excluding men with CVD, but was not independent of BMI. The clinical relevance of this, however, is uncertain and needs to be investigated in a clinical setting.

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