A Cure for Male Menopause?

Now, at age 69, he said, "Think of it, and I'm probably on it. I'm on vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. I'm on injectible testosterone once a week. I'm on thyroids. I am on DHEA, 100 milligrams. I am on growth hormones, one unit a day, six days a week."

Mintz said the result is a body that won't suffer the indignities of old age, and he's confident that it's safe.

"Sure there's controversy," he said. "Like everything else, it'll take 20, 30 years and then everybody will say 'Yeah, I told you so.' So are we the leaders on this? Yes. Are we out in front? Are we expecting controversy? That's OK, because controversy sparks dialogue. So we love the controversy. But I'll tell you, the literature's on our side."

Potential Risks?

But Dr. Marc Blackman, a leading endocrinologist at the National Institutes of Health, said that's just not so.

"Medical science, advanced as it is, doesn't yet know whether these treatments are effective, in meaningful ways, and even more importantly, doesn't know whether these powerful hormones are safe in the long term," Blackman said.

Blackman said that while hormone therapy for men holds promise, there hasn't been a single, large, scientifically rigorous study that would give doctors a solid basis for thoroughly examining the risks and benefits of the treatment.

"A little information can be dangerous," he said. "Many of these early studies are very nicely done, but they're small. And in the scheme of things, they're inconclusive."

Among the greatest concerns is the effect of testosterone on the prostate.

"As men age, their prostates naturally enlarge, most often in a benign way," said Blackman. "But of more concern is the issue of prostate cancer. And it has been hypothesized that testosterone administration may either increase the formation of new cancers, for which there is, at present, no good evidence. Or, it may stimulate the growth of a known or occult, that is unknown, cancer, for which there is some evidence."

In fact, Blackman said that concern about the risks of prostate cancer and heart disease in healthy men receiving testosterone therapy is what has delayed the execution of a major study.

In other words, the medical establishment is so wary of the possible consequences of hormone therapy in men that it's waiting for more evidence of its safety before subjecting men who would participate in a study to potential risks.

Blackman said this caution is in many ways the result of a major study on female hormone therapy that revealed that some of the risks of hormone therapy in menopausal women outweighed the benefits.

"Look at all the information that has been accumulated over the last 30 or 40 years related to estrogen and other female hormones as they relate to the natural menopause or change of life in women. The information has been here, there, and everywhere. And that's the natural evolution of knowledge. We're way back to 30 years ago, in the testosterone and aging and older men story. Which is why we really should proceed with caution."

Treatment, With Caution

Cenegenics patient John Leslie Wolfe, 58, said he's walking into the experience with his eyes wide open. He recently completed his primary evaluation at the clinic (price tag: $2,495) but hasn't yet started on any Cenegenics-prescribed hormones (which would cost another $5,000-$12,000 a year.)

Wolfe said he came to the clinic in search of better health, not the fountain of youth.

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