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Keywords:

  • Androgens;
  • cardiovascular;
  • death;
  • ischaemic heart disease;
  • men;
  • risk factors

Abstract

Aim

Observationally, low serum testosterone among men is associated with cardiovascular diseases and its risk factors, but it is unclear whether raising endogenous androgens would be protective. To clarify the role of androgens, the association of two different androgen biomarkers (serum testosterone and androstanediol glucuronide) with cardiovascular disease risk factors and mortality was examined in a nationally representative sample of US men.

Research design and methods

Multivariable linear and proportion hazards regression were used to examine the adjusted associations of serum testosterone and androstanediol glucuronide with cardiovascular disease risk factors and death from major cardiovascular diseases in 1460 men from NHANES III phase 1 (1988–1991) followed-up through 2006.

Results

Serum testosterone and androstanediol glucuronide were weakly correlated (0·13). Serum testosterone was associated with healthier values of most cardiovascular disease risk factors but not with death from ischaemic heart disease or stroke, adjusted for age, education, race/ethnicity, smoking and alcohol use. Similarly adjusted, androstanediol glucuronide was associated with unhealthier values of some cardiovascular risk factors and death from ischaemic heart disease (hazard ratio 1·16, 95% confidence interval 1·003–1·33 per standard deviation).

Conclusions

Androgen biomarkers had inconsistent associations with cardiovascular disease risk factors and ischaemic heart disease. Androstanediol glucuronide, rather than serum testosterone, had associations with cardiovascular disease risk factors more similar to those seen in randomized controlled trials of testosterone therapy, with corresponding implications for raising androgens.