Testosterone and Alzheimer’s Disease — Is There Hope?
A handful of recent scientific studies are examining a possible link between sex hormones, especially testosterone, and Alzheimer’s Disease.
These studies have led some to wonder if testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) might be a potentially valuable treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease — a severely debilitating disease that damages the quality of life of the individual and, of course, the family that cares about them.
Low Testosterone and Alzheimer’s Disease Have Common Symptoms
Before we can decide whether testosterone treatment for Alzheimer’s disease is beneficial, it’s important to identify the debilitating symptoms.
The following are some of the more common signs of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Disruptive memory loss
- Difficulty with problem solving
- Inability to form plans
- Confusion about time and place
- Difficulty reading
- Difficulty judging distance and determining color or contrast
- Misplacing things
- Poor judgement
- Withdrawal from social or familial relationships
- Problems with vocabulary and forgetting words
Some of the more common symptoms of low testosterone that could negatively affect mood and emotions include these:
- Low mood
- Reduced concentration
Looking at these lists of symptoms common to both diseases, some similarities between low testosterone and Alzheimer’s Disease become apparent.
Researchers, rather than looking for a cause-and-effect relationship between low testosterone and Alzheimer’s Disease, are trying to discover if a patient suffering from BOTH low testosterone and Alzheimer’s Disease would experience more severe symptoms.
Testosterone and Alzheimer’s — The Positive Possibilities
That leads to the main question — would treating a patient’s low testosterone improve the overlapping Alzheimer’s symptoms?
At first glance, we might assume that restoring testosterone levels to a more normal range, or even to slightly elevated levels, could reduce the severity or postpone the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.
That would provide some relief, as well as hope, to patients and their families.
But, that would only be an assumption, based on clever reasoning rather than on research. Let’s look further.
Supplemental Testosterone and Alzheimer’s — Too Good to Be True?
Unfortunately, one of the horrible facts of Alzheimer’s Disease is that it progresses.
At later stages, patients often experience episodes of severe anxiety, frustration, and aggression, often referred to as “acting out.”
In this study from Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, Alzheimer’s patients experienced increased irritability and aggressive behaviors more frequently after raising their testosterone levels.
Alzheimer’s patients with low testosterone who did not receive supplemental testosterone were found to act out less, possibly because the low mood and fatigue effects of low testosterone robbed them of the energy to display aggression.
In other words, low testosterone may have actually helped suppress these negative and sometimes harmful behaviors.
Further Study of Supplemental Testosterone and Alzheimer’s Disease Is Needed
At this point, it’s really difficult to say whether the idea to use supplemental testosterone to treat Alzheimer’s Disease has substantial benefit — there could certainly be some drawbacks, as we mentioned above.
But, we can’t rule out hope for testosterone and Alzheimer’s disease treatment. More research will be needed to determine if TRT’s benefits outweigh the consequences for Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Further Concerns About Testosterone and Alzheimer’s Disease?
If you’re experiencing minor memory loss, anxiety, and/or confusion, and you’re concerned about connections between testosterone and Alzheimer’s, we have written an article about how low testosterone and early stage Alzheimer’s symptoms can be quite similar — click the button below to find out more.