Testosterone has benefits, drawbacks

Dear Dr. Gott: I’m an older gentleman with a question. Can you tell me about testosterone?
Dear Reader: Males (and females, in smaller amounts) produce a hormone known as testosterone. This hormone helps maintain bone density, muscle mass and strength, sex drive, the production of red blood cells and sperm. Levels generally peak during adolescence and early adulthood. Then at the age of 40 or so, production is lessened. As a general rule, the decline is gradual.
A higher-than-normal testosterone level has been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate. Lower than normal levels have been associated with memory loss, mood changes, erectile dysfunction and depression.
Synthetic testosterone is available by prescription. While studies reveal the supplemental form can bring levels back to normal in those with low counts, there is no evidence to document any benefits. Therapy can cause sleep apnea, fluid retention, enlarged breasts, baldness and a decrease in the production of sperm. It can also lead the body to produce too many red blood cells, which can increase the risk of heart disease.
If you are exhibiting symptoms and feel you have a testosterone deficiency, speak with your urologist to determine whether a simple lab test is in order to rule out the condition.
Because I mentioned prostate problems and ED, I am sending you copies of my Health Report “The Prostate Gland” and “Erectile Dysfunction.” Other readers who would like copies should send a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 envelope and $2 per report to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

Dear Dr. Gott: I have a question I’m sure has never been addressed in your column. I cannot seem to lose weight. I’m 82 years old, 5 feet tall, and weigh 159 pounds. My doctor doesn’t give me any answers.
I’m on metoprolol succinate, Plavix, Crestor, a multivitamin for women and Centrum Silver, Vitamin D, vitamin B-12, a low-dose aspirin, calcium with vitamin D, CO-Q10, folic acid and fish oil.
I had a stent put in one and a half years ago and try to follow a healthy diet. I go to Curves four or five times a week.

Dear Reader: Before I address your weight, I would like to review your daily medication schedule.
I agree with the metoprolol succinate (Toprol), Plavix and Crestor, prescribed by your primary physician or cardiologist. What I question is the bevy of over-the-counter supplements of vitamins D and B-12, calcium with D and folic acid in addition to your two multivitamins. They simply aren’t necessary. Too much of a good thing isn’t always better. When taken according to packaging instructions, a daily multivitamin should contain the recommended daily allowance of the D, B-12 and folic acid, as well as others. I recommend you stop the Centrum Silver, vitamin D, vitamin B-12 (unless you have a deficiency) and folic acid. The calcium with D is important, especially if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis.
Coenzyme Q10 is necessary for the basic functioning of cells. As a person ages and for those with chronic cardiac conditions, levels can drop.
The addition of fish oil should help lower your triglyceride levels and slow the progression of atherosclerotic plaque.
Speak with your physician to determine whether the aspirin is appropriate. He or she may believe the Toprol and Plavix are sufficient.
If you choose, deplete your supply of the unnecessary supplements rather than discarding them or giving them away. Then put your money into a good daily supplement that meets your requirements. Before making your selection, read the ingredient panel so you can be assured you are getting what you need. Continue the Co-Q10 and fish oil.
While you eat well, perhaps you simply need slight redirection. Caffeine can slow the progression of calorie-burning. If you overdo it on coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate or other caffeine-containing products, reduce your consumption. Foods made with flour and sugar can retard weight loss. If you have a tendency to eat foods made with flour or sugar, this could be your block. Canned vegetables and soups are often high in sodium. Sodium has a tendency to make a person retain fluids (and weight). Therefore, modify your diet to include fresh or frozen steamed vegetables. Snack on raw vegetables and fruits such as carrots, broccoli, pepper slices, celery, apples, oranges and others. Keep a supply in your refrigerator so you aren’t tempted to reach for a sugary or fatty snack that isn’t as good for you. Broil rather than fry lean cuts of fish, chicken and meat. Remove the salt shaker from your table. Avoid fried foods. You might just find your cholesterol level drops with dietary modifications. If this happens, perhaps the Crestor can be stopped as well.
To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “A Strategy for Losing Weight”. Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed, stamped, No. 10 envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

Dear Dr. Gott: Could you tell me about vitamin O? I have COPD and heard it is very good for my condition.
Dear Reader: Vitamin O is not a true vitamin. Rather, it is an expensive supplement composed primarily of salt water and some germanium, a trace element that can be dangerous to your health. Proponents of the “vitamin” claim that disease occurs because the human body is lacking oxygen. They claim it can be a cure for cancer and heart and lung disease. However, there is no scientific evidence to document such claims.
In fact, in 2000 one manufacturer agreed to pay $375,000 to settle charges of claims for false statements in promoting the product.
Many supplements have not been tested for their interactions with other supplements, prescription medications, over-the-counter meds and herbs. Because of this, I urge you to speak with your primary-care physician or the pulmonologist treating your COPD for his or her opinion before taking it. He or she may be able to recommend supplements or vitamins that are safe for you to take.
To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Herbs and Healing Fads”. Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed, stamped, No. 10 envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.