Testosterone Under Attack
Phthalates are also everywhere, almost certainly including your own body. Manufacturers use them in colognes and cosmetics and as softeners in plastics. Baby bottles now come “phthalate free,” but hospital intravenous bags generally don’ prada t. And yet some phthalates seem to have all prada of carbaryl’s unpleasant associations with reproductive health. And not just in men: Last year Greenpeace issued a warning against the danger of phthalates in your girlfriend’s sex toys. Then the Danish Environmental Protection Agency came riding to the rescue, declaring such toys safe as long as she keeps it to an hour or less a day.
Scientists can’t say that any of the suspect chemicals actually cause the reproductive effects that are occurring. They can only point out troubling associations. But these associations seem to be proliferating. About 50 new chemicals come onto the market weekly, says D prada r. Harman, and while testing for carcinogenicity is required, “there’s no systematized testing for subtle endocrine effects.”
We’re not likely to have good answers anytime soon. The reproductive problems of human males will remain understudied, says Dr. Harman, in part because federal research dollars are being diverted to issues like biological warfare and terrorism. “We might just wind up disappearing from the planet quietly,” he says, “because we were too busy fighting wars to figure out that our reproductive systems were going south.”
All this could Make testosterone therapy a more likely part of your life as you age. Demand is already booming. doctors wrote more than 2.5 million testosterone prescriptions, and the market was worth more than $500 million to pharmaceutical companies. That’s double what it was 5 years ago. If the decline in testosterone levels turns out to be real, the market could easily double again, with 6 to 12 percent of men in some age groups likely to qualify as “hypogonadal,” to use the medical profession’s distinctly depressing term. As a result, testosterone therapy “suffers simultaneously from both overuse and underuse.” And yet evidence about whether such therapy is safe or effective is “shockingly weak,” says the Mayo Clinic’s Victor M. “There is no way for physicians to be certain when prescribing testosterone that, on average, it’s doing more good than harm.”
So is it safe to use t prada estosterone therapy, even under a doctor’s care? Does it cause prostate cancer, as some suggest? Here’s where the debate stands now: First, the fear isn’t that testosterone will cause prostate cancer. It’s a natural product of the human body, and no evidence anywhere has ever shown it to be a carcinogen. Scientists worry instead that adding testosterone may fuel the growth of small cancers that already exist, undetected and harmless, in the prostates of many older men.