How Opioid Exposure Increases Odds of Low Testosterone Levels

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The researchers found that the odds of having low testosterone levels were higher for participants on opioids versus unexposed participants.
The researchers found that the odds of having low testosterone levels were higher for participants on opioids versus unexposed participants.

HealthDay News -- Exposure to opioids is associated with increased likelihood of low testosterone levels, with increased odds as age and number of comorbidities increase, according to a study published in Pain Medicine.

Maria Soledad Cepeda, MD, PhD, from Janssen Research & Development in Titusville, New Jersey, and colleagues used data from the 2011 to 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to examine whether opioid use contributes to changes in testosterone levels. Testosterone levels were compared for participants who responded that they had been exposed to prescription opioids in the past 30 days (320 participants) versus those who were unexposed (4909 participants).

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The researchers found that the odds of having low testosterone levels were higher for participants on opioids versus unexposed participants (odds ratio, 1.40). 

The odds of having low testosterone levels increased significantly in all categories as the age and number of comorbidities increased, after adjustment for opioid exposure. The odds of having low testosterone levels were increased for participants aged older than 70 years versus those aged 17 to 45 years (odds ratio, 1.70) and for participants with more than two versus no comorbidities (odds ratio, 1.69).

"When assessing the impact of opioids on testosterone, the effects of age and medical conditions should be considered," the authors write.

All authors disclosed employment by pharmaceutical companies, including Janssen Research & Development, which funded the study.

Reference

Cepeda M, Zhu V, Vorsanger G, Eichenbaum G. Effect of Opioids on Testosterone Levels: Cross-Sectional Study using NHANES. Pain Med. 2015. doi:10.1111/pme.12843.

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