Testosterone for diabetes prevention in men

| December 17, 2013

In men aged 50 or more who are overweight and have low testosterone levels the risk of developing diabetes over the next five years is extraordinarily high. Professor Gary Wittert and his team at the University of Adelaide are leading a study to investigate if testosterone supplements can prevent diabetes in these high risk men.

It’s not inevitable that sex drive and erectile function wane with increasing age. And getting up at night more than once to pass urine doesn’t have to be the norm either. It is a common misconception that these are inevitable consequences of aging, or that these symptoms are due to some sort of prostate problem.

We now know, however, that these sorts of problems may be markers of more serious disease elsewhere in the body, including early indications of blockages in the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle, high blood pressure, early type 2 diabetes, obstruction to breathing during sleep or an underlying depression.

Just being overweight or obese (particularly when the fat accumulates around the tummy), not doing enough physical activity, or drinking too much alcohol may also be enough to cause such problems.

Fat cells do more than put physical strain on the body. They release chemicals (cytokines) that produce inflammation and disrupt metabolic processes such as blood sugar control. Some of this metabolic upset can go on for years doing ‘silent damage’, but symptoms such as getting up at night to pass urine, and problems with sexual function may be useful warning signs that it’s time to take stock.

The good news is that losing weight can relieve symptoms and halt underlying processes.  In 2010, our team at Adelaide University showed that weight loss achieved over eight weeks improved sexual function and markedly reduced abnormal urination. They also had improvements in blood sugar and their blood testosterone levels increased.

We have also shown, as have many others, that obesity may result in blood levels of testosterone being low. But what we have also shown is that in men aged 50 or more who are overweight and have low testosterone levels the risk of developing diabetes over the next five years is extraordinarily high.

If losing weight is known to prevent type 2 diabetes and improve testosterone levels in the blood, then why don’t more men lose weight? Well, most people find it very hard to get started on a weight loss program and lose and maintain the weight lost.

Our team is now leading the first large scale study in Australian men to investigate whether testosterone supplements prevent diabetes in these high risk men. We think it will do this by triggering mechanisms in the body to reduce fat and also to improve motivation to improve lifestyle. Of course we also want to find out whether the testosterone will improve sexual function and reduce unpleasant urinary symptoms.

Our trial “Testosterone for diabetes prevention in men” is actively recruiting men for the next year in metropolitan areas of Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. If you are aged 50-74 and have a waist measurement of 95cm or more, you could be eligible to take part. Screening involves answering a short online or telephone questionnaire (this takes 5 minutes) and blood tests to check for pre-diabetes (the forerunner stage to Type 2 diabetes).

Half the participants receive testosterone supplements while the others receive placebo. Everyone enrolled has two years of free access to Weight Watchers (online access and/or meetings, whatever suits you). We expect that both groups of participants will lose weight because we know that Weight Watchers works. Our question is ‘Does adding testosterone supplements to Weight Watchers lifestyle change bring about more weight loss and more reduction of diabetes risk than Weight Watchers alone?’ If enrolled, you could help answer this important question for men’s health. Taking part could also be the start of your taking charge of your health.

Would you like to join? You can find out more and see if you are eligible by going to http://www.diabetesprevention.org.au/ (click ‘join the study’ to do the screening questions) or call us on 1300 865 436. All enquires welcome!



  1. susanliddy

    December 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Health is a wealth. There is

    Health is a wealth. There is nothing without health.