Men were more likely to use testosterone after seeing testosterone therapy ads on TV, a study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found.
Testosterone use increased substantially in the U.S. from 2000-13, especially among men who didn’t necessarily need it. A UNC study has linked that increase to an increase in advertisements for testosterone therapies.
TV ads for testosterone therapies increased across U.S. cities between 2009 and 2013 and exposure to the ads was associated with increased testosterone testing, new use of testosterone therapies and use of testosterone without testing, according to a news release from the university.
"This all occurred during a time when there was rapidly increasing use (of testosterone), but with unresolved safety concerns and little evidence of benefit for treating men with normal, age-related testosterone-reductions or non-specific symptoms,” said Bradley Layton, lead researcher and an epidemiologist at UNC.
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Layton and his research team analyzed regional exposure to the ads alongside regional testosterone use.
Of the more than 17.2 million commercially insured men in the 75 market areas, more than 1 million of them (with an average age of 50) had “new serum” testosterone tests and 283,317 (with an average age of 52) initiated a testosterone treatment.
Advertising intensity varied by region and time, but the highest intensity of testosterone ads were in the southeastern United States, the UNC research found.
Monthly data showed a range between no ad exposure at all to an average of 13.6 exposures per household. Regions with higher exposure to the testosterone ads had higher testosterone testing and use rates.
“It has been shown that patients’ specific requests for treatment can influence physician’s prescribing, and many men who were starting testosterone therapy weren’t following the guidelines for assessing and treating hypogonadism,” said Layton. "If advertisements increased patients’ demand for testosterone, it could have contributed to large amounts of testosterone use in men without sound reasons for taking it.”
For more information on the study go to http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2612615.