High-dose testosterone is associated with atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women
Objectives: To study the long-term effects of androgen treatment on atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women. Methods: In a population-based study in 513 naturally postmenopausal women aged 54-67 years, we studied the association between self-reported intramuscularly administered high-dose estrogen-testosterone therapy (estradiol- and testosterone esters) and aortic atherosclerosis. Aortic atherosclerosis was diagnosed by radiographic detection of calcified deposits in the abdominal aorta, which have been shown to reflect intima atherosclerosis. Hormone therapy users were compared with never users. Results: Intramuscular hormone therapy use for 1 year or longer was reported by 25 women. In almost half of these women severe atherosclerosis of the aorta was present (n = 11), while in women without hormone use severe atherosclerosis of the aorta was present in less than 20% (OR 3.1; 95% CI, 1.1-8.5, adjusted for age, years since menopause, smoking, and body mass index). The association remained after additional adjustment for diabetes, cholesterol level, systolic blood pressure, or alcohol use. No association was found for hormone use less than 1 year. Conclusion: Our results suggest that high-dose testosterone therapy may adversely affect atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women and indicate that androgen replacement in these women may not be harmless.