Young men with type 2 diabetes exhibit low testosterone levels, according to a recent study. In addition to sexual dysfunction and infertility, low testosterone during youth can inhibit growth and increase risk of obesity.
Testosterone is a predominantly male hormone, produced mainly in the testes. It’s production is directly correlated to energy, libido, bone strength, red blood cell count and fertility. The connection between type 2 diabetes and low testosterone levels is not a new one. Past research, conducted by the same University at Buffalo research team as the current study, showed that approximately one-third of middle-aged men with type 2 diabetes had diminished testosterone levels, often leading to sexual dysfunction.
While low testosterone levels in middle-aged men most commonly causes concern with fertility and sexual performance, in young men, very serious health concerns associated with body growth can result, and for those with diabetes, the severity of their condition can increase as well. “The lack of testosterone during these critical years may lead to diminished bone mass and the lack of development or lose of skeletal muscle. In addition, these patients may gain more weight (with an average body mass index of 38 they already were obese) and become more insulin resistant,” states study author Dr. Paresh Dandona. Obesity has also been connected to infertility in numerous past research efforts. In addition, young diabetic men with low testosterone levels exhibit increased levels of C reactive proteins, “which increases their risk of developing atherosclerosis and heart disease above and beyond the risk associated with diabetes.”
The study looked at 62 men between 18-35 years of age, 38 with type 1 (“juvenile”) diabetes and 24 with type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetics were shown to have normal testosterone levels in general. Type 2 diabetics, however, had (on average) half the amount of testosterone in their blood as type 1 diabetics. Also, after age adjustment, it was concluded that 14 of the 24 type 2 diabetics had lower levels of testosterone than the average, non-diabetic male.
These 14 individuals were also observed to have lower levels of certain pituitary generated hormones, which can lead to hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (HH), which decreases fertility. Obesity has been connected to HH before, but this studies findings suggest that the diabetes may also be responsible. “It is likely that factors other than obesity contribute to HH, possibly insulin resistance,” states first Author Dr. Anil Chandel. The researchers suggest follow up research to be done on this particular matter.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease effecting a tremendous number of people (nearly 18 million type 2 diabetics in the US alone), and is rapidly growing, but in many cases, it is largely preventable. For young men, testosterone is an essential component for healthy development, as well as everyday health. Developing insulin resistance (known as a pre-diabetic condition, as well as a characteristic of diabetes when more pronounced) could lead to diminished levels of this essential hormone, greatly decreasing quality of life. Physical activity and a healthy diet could help prevent diabetes, and ensure a healthy physical and sexual life, both in present and in future.
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Chandel, Anil. Dandona, Paresh. et al. Diabetes Care publish ahead of print. “TESTOSTERONE CONCENTRATIONS IN YOUNG PATIENTS WITH DIABETES MELLITUS.” July 2008. University at Buffalo news release. August 2008.