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Men's Health: Low testosterone linked to falls

A shortage of the male hormone could impair vision, thinking or co-ordination in older men

Older men with low testosterone levels are at higher risk for taking a tumble, according to a study of nearly 2,600 volunteers.

A research team led by Dr. Eric Orwoll of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland measured levels of the male hormone in 2,587 men ages 65 to 99 years and collected information on falls every four months over the next four years.

Fifty-six per cent of the men reported at least one fall; many men fell frequently. Those with testosterone levels in the bottom quarter of the range had a 40 per cent higher fall risk than those with levels in the highest quarter. The effect of low testosterone levels was most apparent in the younger men (ages 65 to 69 years); testosterone level was not associated with falls in men 80 and older.

This association between low testosterone and falling remained even after the researchers accounted for the fact that men with low testosterone tended to have poorer physical abilities. This, according to the researchers, suggests low testosterone increases fall risk through other means, such as impairing vision, thinking or co-ordination.

Orwoll and his colleagues say their research helps justify a further study to see if testosterone supplements help older men reduce their risk of falling.