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  February 18, 2002

Study Focuses on Testosterone's Effects
On Frailty in Men with Osteoporosis
By Jane Shaskan

A new research study at the Health Center will study the significance of testosterone hormone levels in men.

Funded by the National Institute of Aging, the five-year, $1.6 million grant will look at testosterone replacement therapy for older men.

"We're going to look at various possible benefits of testosterone replacement, including bone retention, improved brain function, muscle strength and overall frame of mind," says lead investigator Anne Kenny, an assistant professor in the UConn Center on Aging.

"If our research shows that testosterone replacement benefits the overall health and well-being of men, then we may be looking at a fuller and longer independent life for men as they age."

Although bone loss and osteoporosis happens more often to women, it is also problematic for men, according to Dr. Kenny. "In the general population, one in five men over age 60 will suffer a fracture due to osteoporosis. The stronger and more stable men are, the less likely they are to fall and suffer a fracture," she says. "A fall can easily cause a fracture in older men, especially those with osteoporosis.

"About 70 percent of men over age 70, who have had a hip fracture, were testosterone deficient. And, these men were about 20 percent more likely to suffer another fracture within a year," she says. "This frequently is the start of a downward spiraling path to the loss of independent living for these men."

"Testosterone replacement has immense potential for improving the independence and quality of life of older men," said George Kuchel, director of the UConn Center on Aging.

"Dr. Kenny's research is an excellent example of the power of good clinical physiologic research when applied to an important geriatric issue. In my opinion, this study will have a great impact on the care of our aging population in years to come."

"If we find that testosterone helps maintain bone mass, that alone will be significant," says Kenny. "We're hoping it does even more. Is testosterone replacement the male equivalent of estrogen replacement therapy? If it works, it may be even better, since testosterone, unlike estrogen, may help build muscle," she says.

Currently, Kenny is recruiting volunteers to participate in the study. Men 60 years of age and older, who have had a hip fracture caused by a mild to moderate injury within the past three years, are needed. A total of eight visits to the Health Center over three years is required.

More information about the study can be obtained by calling the Health Center's General Clinical Research Center at (860) 679-3040 or (866) 846-2849.

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