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Weight-loss surgery boosts testosterone levels in obese men

New York: A common weight-loss operation can improve testosterone levels in obese men, leading to other health benefits than just controlling fat, a promising study indicates.

Sleeve gastrectomy is a bariatric weight-loss procedure in which the stomach is reduced to about 25 percent of its original size by surgically removing a large portion of it.

Surgeons from Stanford University in California reported that after undergoing this bariatric surgical procedure, obese patients with low testosterone levels experienced a measurable increase in their testosterone levels over a 12 month period following the operation.

“We know that low testosterone has an impact on sexual quality of life but it is also an independent cardiac risk factor. Men with low testosterone have more cardiac events than men with normal testosterone,” said John Morton from Stanford University’s school of medicine.

Low testosterone also increases the risk of sarcopenia, a loss of muscle that accelerates the ageing process.

The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of surgical weight loss following sleeve gastrectomy on serum testosterone, DHEA (a precursor to testosterone) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA).

This clinical study involved 24 obese male patients undergoing gastric sleeve surgery.

The researchers found that the study group experienced a significant increase in average serum testosterone after undergoing sleeve gastrectomy.

Before the procedure, 63 percent of participants had low testosterone and afterwards, only 41 percent did.

“More men should seek surgical care for obesity as they carry more risk from their weight — low testosterone causes further weight gain, increases cardiac risk, and decreases quality of life. Sleeve gastrectomy can improve all of those comorbidities,” Dr Morton informed.

Sleeve gastrectomy, which was introduced about 10 years ago, has replaced gastric bypass as the new gold standard in weight-loss operations. It’s a shorter, lower-risk procedure.

People with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35 with a medical problem or a BMI greater than 40 are candidates for this operation.

“The take home message is that if you are an obese man with low testosterone, your therapy should be weight loss and not testosterone replacement,” Dr Morton concluded.

The findings were presented at the 2015 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons in Chicago recently.