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Overweight men are more likely to have low levels of testosterone, according to the study, which involved nearly 900 overweight, middle-aged Irish men with pre-diabetes. People with pre-diabetes have abnormally high blood glucose levels, but the levels aren't yet high enough to be considered diabetes.
Men were assigned to one of three treatments. One group was told to eat a lower-fat, lower-calorie diet and exercise at least 150 minutes a week; a second group took the diabetes drug metformin; and a third group took a placebo pill.
Among men in the healthy-lifestyle group, the rate of low testosterone levels dropped from 20 percent to 11 percent after a year. The rate of low testosterone didn't budge in the diabetes-drug group or the placebo group.
The study was expected to be presented this week at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in Houston.
"Doctors should first encourage overweight men with low testosterone levels to try to lose weight through diet and exercise before resorting to testosterone therapy to raise their hormone levels," study co-author Dr. Frances Hayes, a professor at St. Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin, said in a society news release.
The healthy lifestyle group lost an average of 17 pounds.
"Losing weight not only reduces the risk of pre-diabetic men progressing to diabetes, but also appears to increase their body's production of testosterone," Hayes said.
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal. Experts also note that the study found an association between weight loss and higher testosterone, but did not prove that losing weight caused testosterone levels to rise.
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
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