Scientists Explain Why Interval Training Works

Leave a comment

If you really want a workout, try interval training. Nearly every gym now offers what’s called high intensity interval training, or HIIT; sessions involve pushing yourself to nearly your peak heart rate for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, then cooling down for a few minutes with a less intense exercise before picking up the pace again and repeating for a few cycles. Devotees claim it’s the best way to exercise, and if you’re not doing some form of HIIT, you’re wasting your time.

The premise seems too good to be true: that working out in short, intense bursts can be just as good for your heart and muscles as longer endurance regimens. But scientists say it is true, and that they may have an explanation for why it’s possible.

Hakan Westerblad, a professor of physiology and pharmacology from the Karolinska Institute, and his colleagues took muscle samples from a group of volunteers after they alternated between pedaling a stationary bike for 30 seconds at top intensity and resting for three minutes six times. Their muscle cells revealed the secret to high intensity workouts.

When stressed by the extreme exercise, certain chemical channels in the muscle cells that regulate calcium changes in the cells broke down. Calcium is critical for cell signaling, and the extreme demands triggered by the exercise prompt the cell to adjust its energy production and become more efficient. “What we found was a breakdown of these channels that was totally unexpected,” says Westerblad. “We have never seen anything similar. We saw a large production of free radicals, and these free radicals were specifically hitting the calcium channels. Normal training also increases the amount of free radicals, but not by as much as interval training.”

The change in the channels triggered by the free radicals, he says, is the muscle cells’ way of detecting and coping with the extreme duress caused by the high intensity exercise. “During any physical training, the cell senses, ‘I have a problem here,’” says Westerblad. “So to be better safe than sorry, they adapt so the next time they experience the intense exercise, the problem is lessened.”

But that only works to a point. Elite athletes’ bodies are so well adapted to strenuous and intense training that they start to tolerate the ‘trauma’ of HIIT, and their muscle cells don’t react as dramatically since they don’t see the intense activity as a reason to rev up their energy needs.

Yet for recreational athletes, like the ones Westerblad tested in his lab, the effect can be pretty significant. He found that a single session of HIIT triggered molecular changes in muscle cells that remained detectable 24 hours later in a muscle biopsy. The muscle cells are essentially changing in order to prepare themselves for further hits of HIIT, so they can remember how much energy they need and how quickly they need to produce this fuel in order to sustain themselves through the bouts of intense activity. So if you’re not a fan of long workouts, interval training may be a good way to work your muscles without the time commitment.


For for more information on our therapies please contact Clinic Director Charlie Blaisdell at

BTP/CORE New England/ Core Medical Group
920 Washington Street
Norwood, MA 02062
Clinic: 781-269-5953

Why Losing Weight Is So Hard for Some People

Leave a comment

And why personalized diet plans are likely the future

A new study shows people’s bodies react to the same foods in very different ways, adding to a growing body of research that suggests people may be better able to achieve weight loss if their diet was tailored to them, rather than following general advice about foods to eat and avoid.

In the new study, published this month in the journal Cell, a team of Israeli researchers looked at a variety of biomarkers in 800 people between the ages of 18 and 70. For one week, the men and women wore devices that measured their blood sugar levels every five minutes. They also used a mobile app to closely record their food intake, sleep and exercise. In addition, they filled out questionnaires about their health, and provided blood and stool samples for testing.

The researchers found that blood sugar levels varied widely among people after they ate, and these levels were highly variable even when the researchers had the people eat the exact same meal. Sometimes a food that would result in low blood sugar for one person, would cause high blood sugar for another. This information, they argue, suggests umbrella recommendations for how to eat don’t do the trick.

“For many years, our thinking has been that people develop obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases because they are not compliant with our dietary advice,” lead researchers Eran Segal and Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel told TIME in a joint email about their findings. “However, based on our study, another possibility is that people are in fact compliant but that the dietary advice that we are giving them is inappropriate.”

“We believe a take-home message for people from our work is that if a diet did not work for you, it may be the diet’s fault and not your fault,” they add.

What the researchers believe could be responsible for these differences is the microbiome—trillions of bacteria that live in the gut and differ wildly from person to person. Another recent study published in the journalObesity Research & Clinical Practice found that even if they exercised and ate the same amount, an adult in 2006 is heavier than one in 1988. The study authors also suggested that changes in the microbiome could be at play, amid other possibilities.

“We are only just beginning to explore how the complex microbiome influences our physiology and health,” says study author Jennifer Kuk, a professor of kinesiology and health science at York University. “This [new study] is another that shows promising evidence that the microbiome may play an important role in how we regulate body weight and could be a novel target for future weight loss interventions.”

Segal and Elinav say they’re already moving that science forward. In their study, they also took all the data they collected and created algorithms that were able to predict how a person’s blood sugar would respond to the food they ate. They say that down the line, they believe their algorithm could be used to create personalized diets for people.

“We showed that the comprehensive profile that we measured can be used to achieve and design personally tailored diets,” they told TIME. “Our vision is to be able to derive predictions and personalized diets using a small set of inputs that people could fill out in questionnaires and a single microbiome sample, and we believe that this is both achievable in the near future and that that would be cost effective.”



For for more information on our therapies please contact Clinic Director Charlie Blaisdell at

BTP/CORE New England
920 Washington Street
Norwood, MA 02062
Clinic: 781-269-5953

Why Being Thankful Is Good for You

Leave a comment

Thanksgiving is as much about gratitude is at is about turkey and cranberry sauce. And it turns out feeling thankful has some pretty potent effects on your health.

While more research is needed to strengthen the understanding of the link between gratitude and health, here’s a roundup of some compelling reasons why you will want to be extra thankful this season.

You’ll have a healthier heart: In an April study of 186 men and women with heart damage, researchers rated the people’s levels of gratitude and spiritual well-being. They found that higher gratitude scores were linked to having a better mood, higher quality sleep and less inflammation—which can worsen the symptoms of heart failure. They also found that having high levels of gratitude explained a lot of the benefits of spiritual well-being. In addition, some of the men and women were also asked to write down things they were grateful for over an eight-week period. “We found that those patients who kept gratitude journals for those eight weeks showed reductions in circulating levels of several important inflammatory biomarkers, as well as an increase in heart rate variability while they wrote. Improved heart rate variability is considered a measure of reduced cardiac risk,” said study author Paul J. Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego in a statement about his research.

You might get more shuteye: If you’re having difficulty sleeping, writing down a few things you are thankful for before bed can help. A 2011 study of college students who struggled to fall asleep due to racing minds and worries found that those who underwent a gratitude intervention (they were asked to spend 15 minutes in the early evening writing about a positive event that occurred recently or one they anticipated in the future) were able to “quiet their minds and sleep better.”

It makes you more optimistic: Being gracious can contribute to a healthier outlook. In a 2003 study, researchers split up a group of people and had some of them write about what they were grateful for during the week, some write about hassles, and a third group write about neutral things that happened to them. After a few weeks, the researchers found that the people who wrote about things they were grateful for were more optimistic and reported feeling better about themselves. They even exercised more than the group that wrote about things that irritated them. “Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits,” the study authors write.

Gratitude helps you make new friends: Expressing gratitude is a great way to build new relationships. In a 2014 study published in the journal Emotion, researchers had 70 college students think they were mentoring a high schooler. They were asked to send comments on a college admissions essay. The students then received a note from their mentee that either expressed gratitude or did not. The students who were thanked by the high schooler were more likely to rate them as having a warmer personality and more likely to provide the younger student with their personal information, like an email address.

Being thankful improves physical health: An analysis of nearly 1,000 Swiss adults published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that higher levels of dispositional gratitude were correlated with better self-reported physical health. The people who felt more gracious had a notable willingness to partake in healthy behaviors and seek help for their health-related concerns. Other research has suggested that people who are grateful are more likely to do physical activity.


For for more information on our therapies please contact Clinic Director Charlie Blaisdell at

BTP/CORE New England/ Core Medical Group
920 Washington Street
Norwood, MA 02062
Clinic: 781-269-5953

Simple Strength Test May Predict Heart Attack, Stroke

Leave a comment

Previous studies have suggested that reduced muscular strength, as can be measured by hand-grip strength, maybe linked to early death, disability, and illness.  The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) Study investigators analyzed data collected on 139,691 adults, ages 35 to 70 years, residing in 17 countries, and followed them for an average of four years –  measuring hand-grip strength regularly through the study period. Data analysis revealed that every 5 kg declining grip strength associated with a 16% increase in risk of death from any cause, a 17% greater risk of cardiovascular death, and a 17% higher risk of non-cardiovascular mortality. Notably, heart attack risk rose by 7%, and stroke risk by 9%. In particular, a low grip strength was linked with higher death rates in people who develop cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular diseases, suggesting that muscle strength may predict the risk of death the people who develop a major illness. The study authors report that: “This study suggests that measurement of grip strength is a simple, inexpensive risk-stratifying method for all-cause death, cardiovascular death, and cardiovascular disease.”


Contact us for information on all of our therapies.

Boston Testosterone Partners / Core Medical Group
BTP/CORE New England
Men’s Health Centers

Cocoa for Cardiovascular Health

Leave a comment

European Union Consortium researchers report two studies that suggest that consuming cocoa flavanols – plant-derived bioactives from the cacao bean – may help to improve cardiovascular function and lessen the burden on the heart that comes with the aging and stiffening of arteries.  In the first study, Christian Heiss, from the University Duesseldorf  (Germany), and colleagues enrolled two groups of 22 young (under 35 years) and 20 older (50-80 years) healthy men, to consume either a flavanol-containing drink, or a flavanol-free control drink, twice a day for two weeks. The researchers then measured the effect of flavanols on hallmarks of cardiovascular aging, such as arterial stiffness (as measured by pulse wave velocity), blood pressure and flow-mediated vasodilation (the extent to which blood vessels dilate in response to nitric oxide).  The team observed that vasodilation was significantly improved in both age groups that consumed flavanols over the course of the study (by 33% in the younger age group and 32% in the older age group over the control intervention). As well, among the older age group, a statistically and clinically significant decrease in systolic blood pressure of 4 mmHg over control was also seen.  In the second study, Roberto Sansone, from the University Duesseldorf (Germany), and colleagues , enrolled 100 healthy middle-aged men and women (ages 35 to 60 years) with low risk of cardiovascular disease.  The participants were randomly and blindly assigned into groups that consumed either a flavanol-containing drink or a flavanol-free control drink, twice a day for four weeks. The researchers also measured cholesterol levels in the study groups, in addition to vasodilation, arterial stiffness and blood pressure. The team observed that cocoa flavanols increased flow-mediated vasodilation by 21%.; as well as decreased blood pressure (systolic by 4.4 mmHg, diastolic by 3.9 mmHg), and decreased  total cholesterol (by 0.2 mmol/L), LDL cholesterol (by 0.17 mmol/L), and raised HDL cholesterol (by 0.1 mmol/L). Taken collectively, the Consortium submits that flavanols are effective at mitigating age-related changes in blood vessels, and could thereby reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy individuals.


For more information on our therapies please contact Clinic Director Charlie Blaisdell at

BTP/CORE New England/ Core Medical Group
920 Washington Street
Norwood, MA 02062
Clinic: 781-269-5953


Leave a comment

If present trends continue, 1 in 3 children born in this century in the United States will develop diabetes.The poorest populations in the United States suffer disproportionately from type 2 diabetes and obesity – medical conditions which are almost always preventable and reversible with targeted lifestyle management (ie, exercise, nutrition, stress reduction and attitude adjustment) and other inexpensive, mind-body solutions. This article will explore a breadth of proven and practical tools and techniques that you can implement in your practice today.

Clinical studies on obesity often use measurements of body mass index (BMI) instead of percent body fat. However, according to a Science Magazine editorial, “BMI is not an accurate measure of body fat content,” and, not surprisingly, “does not account for critical factors that contribute to health, such as where you carry your fat, proportion of muscle to fat, and sex and racial differences in body composition.2” Waist circumference is considered the best predictor of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D), compared to BMI, waist/hip ratio, and other anthropometric measurements.3

Changing What Can Be Changed

Common contributors to diabetes and obesity that can be changed include attitude/consciousness, unmanaged stress, poor nutrition, lack of proper exercise, hormone imbalance, intestinal permeability, environmental toxicity, neurotransmitter imbalance, and poor sleep.

The Power of Attitude

The starting point is an attitude adjustment. As Viktor Frankl said, attitude is the only thing over which we have 100% control. Every person has the capacity to be grateful, forgive, and choose health. If patients find a strong enough “WHY” to get and stay healthy, than almost any “HOW” will be manageable. One of their WHYs may be to end diabetes forever in their family, eg, for the next 7 generations.

Overcoming Stress and Anxiety

Increased abdominal obesity and binge eating is associated with increased levels of cortisol.4Glucocorticoids increase appetite and levels of leptin, an appetite-modulating hormone.5 Increased perceived stress is associated with increased serum leptin concentrations.6 Leptin is an intricate factor in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, as research shows that it is involved in the release of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) in the hypothalamus, and of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) in the adrenals, and that it is regulated by glucocorticoids. Leptin and cortisol also show inverse circadian rhythms, suggestive of regulatory feedback loop.7 The hormone, ghrelin, which stimulates increased food intake and fat mass, is increased by a stress-induced rise in cortisol.8

Meditation can improve diabetes and insulin resistance. One study demonstrated a 20 mg/dL post-prandial hypoglycemic effect of a sitting, breathing meditation exercise on type 2 diabetes patients.9 The use of transcendental meditation (TM) for 16 weeks in CHD patients was also shown to improve insulin resistance and components of the metabolic syndrome.10 Laughter also confers benefits; a Japanese study showed that those who watched a brief comedy show after eating had lower glucose values than those who did not watch the program.11  

Feeling “stressed” involves perception and attitude. There is no rule that says a person must perceive a particular event in a certain way. What matters most is not so much what happens to a person, but rather the emotional meaning that is attached to the event. “Unearned suffering is redemptive,” said the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, who knew first-hand what “unearned suffering” was all about. More accurately, MLK’s saying might be amplified to “Unearned suffering can be redemptive.” Why? Because human beings have a choice! “Superman” Christopher Reeve, with his quadriplegia, and Holocaust and concentration camp survivor, Viktor Frankl, who unjustly lost just about everything, both had a choice – to become bitter as a result of their experiences, or to accept the challenge of transforming suffering into new life. History is filled with such examples. Rather than blaming, which Wayne Dyer calls “a complete waste of time,” conflict resolution can be used.

Reducing stress and living abundantly can be accomplished by decomplicating life and living simply. I tell my patients that we must light a candle instead of cursing the darkness. Instead of focusing on deficits (lack of money, poor genetics, the past, etc), focus on what can be done. Perfectionism is a killer in my patient population and is a sure indicator of adrenal exhaustion. Perfectionism can be cured.

Reducing stress can also include lifestyle strategies such as: relaxation, meditation/prayer, guided imagery, exercise, breathing (eg, Buteyko), volunteering in the community, exercising non-judgment, striving to live in balance, and surrounding oneself with positive people who will inspire.

Nutrition and Blood Glucose Monitoring

Assume that all food and drink will raise blood sugar, unless proven otherwise through blood glucose (BG) monitoring. The most effective way to lower hemoglobin A1C is to monitor post-prandial (PP) BG 2 hours after meals, while also recording exactly what was eaten, as well as the quantity of what was eaten, for as many meals as possible. This will help to determine the patient’s best food combinations, with the goal of keeping PP BG below 140 mg/dL.


One diet to help accomplish this goal is Dr Richard Bernstein’s recommended 30 g of carbohydrates (CHOs) per day; for example, on a 2000-calories/day diet, CHOs would constitute only 6% of total calories.12 in contrast, Dr Michael Murray recommends limiting CHOs to about 10-15% of the calories, but also allows low-glycemic load and high soluble-fiber foods (peas, beans, lentils, oat bran, cherries, berries, barley, and others).13 Unlike Dr Murray, Dr Bernstein does not give much credence to soluble fiber. My own recommended protein intake is based on non-fat mass.


Since energy can only be derived from CHOs, lipids and protein, the additional calories on a CHO-restricted diet must come from fats and proteins. Since, generally speaking, CHOs raise blood sugar significantly, proteins raise it to a lesser degree, and fats raise it only negligibly, the bottom line is to alwaysinclude fat, protein and soluble fiber with CHO-containing meals.

Soluble and insoluble fiber significantly improve glycemic control in patients with both T1D and T2D.  Soluble fiber is more effective than insoluble fiber for reducing BG, since it attracts water like a sponge and slows down absorption of CHOs. Examples of soluble fiber include legumes (eg, lentils, peas, beans), oat bran, seeds (eg, chia, flax), almonds, fruit skins (eg, apple and pear), avocado, broccoli, carrots, and psyllium. Dose appears to make a difference; for example, 50 g of fiber per day (25 g soluble and 25 g insoluble) has been found to be more effective than 24 g (8 g soluble, 16 g insoluble) for improving glycemic control, lowering lipids, and improving insulin sensitivity.14-16 Vinegar with a meal can also reduce the 30-minute PP blood glucose response.17

Legumes, especially lentils, have a low-glycemic load. Lentils at breakfast have been found to not only produce a relatively low glucose and insulin response to the meal, but also to flatten the BG response to the subsequent lunch meal with bread.18 Resistant starch is a starch degradation product that escapes digestion in the small intestine of healthy individuals.19 Resistant starch is considered the third type of dietary fiber, as it can deliver some of the benefits of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Consumption of natural resistant starch by humans has been shown to result in a decreased glycemic response, as well as increases in insulin sensitivity, first-phase insulin secretion, and even the glycemic health of the next generation.20-32 Replacing 5.4% of the carbohydrates of a meal with resistant starch has also shown in a small study to increase fat oxidation by 23%.33

The form in which a food is consumed and the time taken to eat it also influence BG. Whole rice has less impact on BG than ground rice,34 and cooled potatoes has less impact than heated potatoes.35 According to Murray, the more processed a food, the greater the impact.13 Volunteers who ate their 2000 calories only in the morning hours lost weight, whereas eating the 2000 calories in the evening caused the same subjects to gain weight.36

Nut consumption is associated with multiple health benefits. Two large studies of women showed that nut eaters had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.37 And in a randomized trial of 137 individuals at high risk for T2M, 4 weeks of almond consumption, with meals or as snacks, reduced PP blood glucose responses.38 In a Spanish study, 7216 adults ate a Mediterranean diet for 4.8 years; one-third of them supplemented the diet with nuts.39 Compared to non-consumers of nuts, those who ate nuts had a 39% lower mortality risk, while walnut eaters had a 45% lower risk.

Healthy fats (eg, nuts and seeds, coconut and olive oil, avocados, safe fish, organic/grass-fed/hormone-free meat, wild game) and soluble fiber increase satiety and decrease carbohydrate cravings, thereby decreasing insulin stimulation. Higher consumption of antioxidant-rich foods (such as berries and cherries) results in better control of glycemic markers.40

Advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) are formed during high-temperature cooking. Cooking at lower temperatures and in the presence of water results in less AGE formation compared to cooking at higher temperatures and in the absence of water.19


According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, our intestinal microbiome, along with its 5-million genes, is a powerful predictor of T2D. Among 70-year-old Scandinavian women with or without T2D, the gut microbiome “signature” was able to discriminate between these groups, as well as predict which women with impaired glucose tolerance would develop T2D.41 Probiotics can be an effective means of modifying bacterial balance in the intestine.

Artificial Sweeteners

Accumulating evidence suggests that consumption of artificially-sweetened beverages may be associated with obesity, metabolic syndrome, T2D, and cardiovascular disease, despite the lack of sugar in these products.42


In an Amish study, men reported more physical activity than women (eg, men engaged in 10 hours per week of vigorous activity, while women engaged in 3-4 hours).43 However, levels of physical activity were high for both men and women, compared to the average North American. A total of 25% of the men and 27% of the women were overweight (BMI  >25), and 0% of the men and 9% of the women were obese (BMI  >30). This is significantly different than the American average, ie, one-third of Americans are obese, and over two-thirds are overweight.44

A high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session often consists of a warm-up period of exercise, followed by 3 to 10 repetitions of high-intensity exercise (at or near maximum heart rate) for 20-30 seconds, separated by medium-intensity exercise for recovery, and ending with a period of cool-down exercise. Research is suggesting that short bursts of high-intensity exercise may be the ideal form of exercise for metabolic benefits.

For example, 7 sedentary individuals were studied during 6 lower-volume, high-intensity training sessions over the course of 2 weeks. Muscle oxidative capacity and insulin sensitivity were both improved by approximately 35%.45 In a follow-up study, 1 session of HIIT (10 repetitions of 60-second cycling at 90% maximal heart rate, interspersed with 60 seconds of rest) reduced both fasting and PP blood glucose in type 2 diabetics.46 Professor Jamie Timmons believes this beneficial response is due to 80% of body’s muscles being used during HIIT, compared to 40% during gentle jogging or cycling.47

The genes that are affected by an acute bout of exercise are those that are involved in fat metabolism. Almost immediately, exercise induces genetic activation that increases production of fat-busting (lipolytic) enzymes.48 Twelve weeks of HIIT resulted in significant reductions in total abdominal, trunk, and visceral fat, as well as increases in fat-free mass and aerobic power; although in this study insulin and lipids were unaffected.49

Pumping iron can also cut the risk of T2D. A study of more than 32 000 men showed that those who lifted weights or engaged in aerobic exercise for at least 2 ½ hours per week were 34% less likely to develop T2D.50 Although weight training reduced risk independent of aerobic exercise, the combination of the two produced the greatest benefit.

Regular yoga practice may benefit health by altering leptin and adiponectin production. The hormone leptin plays key role in regulating energy intake and expenditure. It also plays a proinflammatory role, whereas adiponectin is anti-inflammatory. One study found leptin to be 36% higher among novices to yoga, compared to experts. The average adiponectin/leptin ratio in experts was nearly twice that of novices.51

Sitting kills, moving heals. Multiple, quick walks throughout the day may have an even bigger impact than a 30-minute walk before work. A study of 70 overweight or obese New Zealanders demonstrated that those who regularly walked around for 1 minute and 40 seconds had lower blood sugar and insulin levels than those who spent their day at their desk.52 Standing up every 10 minutes when sedentary is highly beneficial.


“Earthing,” or grounding, is the act of making physical contact with electrons on the surface of the earth. Grounding has been found to stabilize many aspects of physiology and help regulate internal rhythms.53One experiment found that earthing continually during both rest and physical activity over a 72-hour period decreased fasting glucose among patients with T2D.54

Personal Experiment

The author underwent his own version of a 30-day starch elimination diet (eliminating all concentrated forms of CHOs), and experienced remarkable results. Primary measuring tools were the Bio-Impedance Analysis (BIA) and a medical scale.

Principles of the Diet

  •  The mostly anti-inflammatory, almost vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, 30-day diet consisted of: wild-caught salmon, berries, dark chocolate (85% cocoa), black and pinto beans, avocado, raw nuts and seeds, kale, garlic, eggs, occasional orange or apple, and herbs.
  • The diet was high in fat (65-70%), which strongly delays hunger, prevents cravings, and hypoglycemia.
  • Exact portion size for each food is determined after BIA determines the BMR. Calculate about 300 calories less than the BMR for daily caloric goal. I found that I never could eat my allotted portion because of the high proportion of fat.


Growing evidence supports associations between chronic sleep loss, and the risk of obesity, insulin resistance, and T2D. Sleep loss of healthy young adults demonstrated marked alterations in glucose metabolism, including decreases in insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Appetite regulation was also affected: leptin (which normally decreases appetite) was decreased, and ghrelin (which stimulates appetite) was increased. These changes resulted in increased hunger and appetite, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.56


For for more information on our therapies please contact Clinic Director Charlie Blaisdell at

BTP/CORE New England
920 Washington Street
Norwood, MA 02062
Clinic: 781-269-5953


Leave a comment

NDs strive to find the root cause of illness in order to understand the truth when looking at any given situation. Traditional medicine has postulated that the presence of excess testosterone in a male’s body might increase the likelihood of prostate cancer. Some years back the urological community tried to find a correlation between the levels of testosterone or DHT (dihydro-testosterone) and prostate cancer. They found that there was no correlation.

Fear of Testosterone

Nonetheless, the medical community has avoided the therapeutic use of testosterone for fear of cancer. In doing so, they have discouraged and prevented many men from attaining the benefits available from androgen replacement therapy.

We all are aware of the myriad conditions that arise from androgen deficiency. These range from hyperlipidemia, hyperinsulinism, metabolic syndrome, hypertension and cardiovascular disease to an increase in all cause mortality.

A major reason for this attitude toward testosterone and androgen replacement therapy is because of the testosterone that was used in the 1940s and 1950s. A patent medicine company sold a synthetic hormone called methyltestosterone, pawning it off as the real thing. After a few years of taking this chemical form, which does not exist in the human body, many men developed liver cancer and heart disease. The experts proclaimed that “testosterone therapy” was dangerous, so testosterone research died and did not wake up until the late 1980s with the use of safer, bioidentical testosterone (Dach, online posting).

Another reason that testosterone has a bad reputation is from its abuse in sports. After all, it is an anabolic hormone. Following the example of college and professional athletes trying to increase their abilities, many high school athletes began using anabolic steroids. This is an example of tragic, self-induced hormone overdose. In response to this, the U.S. Congress made testosterone a controlled substance like cocaine and morphine (Dach, online posting).

Another issue is that institutional medicine is opposed to the idea of testosterone treatment. In November 2002 the Institute of Medicine stated that existing scientific evidence does not justify claims that testosterone treatments can relieve or prevent certain age-related problems in men (Dach, online posting). As seen in Table 1, which summarizes a review of literature, no studies correlate levels of testosterone, DHEA or DHT to prostate cancer.

Last but not least is the notion that testosterone is not safe for the prostate. This notion is incorrect, as illustrated in the January 2004 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, which reviewed numerous medical studies and found absolutely no evidence that testosterone therapy causes prostate cancer. In fact, the report notes that prostate cancer becomes more prevalent exactly at the time of the man’s life that testosterone levels decline.

In another study, researchers examined the effects on the prostate of testosterone replacement therapy in 40 men aged 44 to 78 and who had low testosterone levels.

The men received 150mg of either testosterone or a placebo via injection every two weeks for six months.

Biopsies performed on prostate tissue taken from the men before and after the study showed testosterone levels within the prostate increased only slightly among the men who received testosterone therapy, although their blood levels of the hormone increased to normal levels.

No treatment-related change in the number of cancer cases or cancer severity was found.

“The prostate risks to men undergoing TRT may not be as great as once believed, especially if the results of the pretreatment biopsy are negative,” wrote researcher Leonard Marks, MD of the UCLA School of Medicine, and colleagues in The Journal of The American Medical Association (2006).

Most of this debate stems from the study conducted in 1941 by Huggins and Hodges, which established the hormonal responsiveness of prostate cancer by reporting that marked reductions in testosterone by castration or estrogen treatment caused metastatic prostate cancer to regress, and also that administration of exogenous testosterone caused prostate cancer to grow. Many of us learned from our professors to describe the relationship of testosterone to prostate cancer as “fuel for a fire” and “food for a hungry tumor.” To this day, androgen ablation remains a mainstay of treatment for advanced prostate cancer.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.19.18 PM

On this note, a recent study illustrated that androgen deprivation therapy may not work. Published in theJournal of the American Medical Association (2008), the authors concluded that in men ages 66 and older, primary androgen deprivation therapy is not associated with improved survival among the majority of elderly men with localized prostate cancer when compared with conservative management (ie, deferral of treatment until necessitated by disease signs or symptoms in order to preserve quality of life).

This illustrates our need to change our thinking when it comes to androgens and prostate cancer.

Yet the true nature of this myth is revealed best by its historical origin – a blood test result in a single patient that was equivocal at best. Other investigators failed to note worrisome prostate cancer progression with testosterone administration and even reported beneficial subjective responses. Reviewing the relatively benign clinical course of their previously untreated patients, Fowler and Whitmore (1981) postulated that near-maximal stimulation of prostate cancer occurs at testosterone concentrations found in normal men. This saturation model is consistent with current data regarding testosterone and prostate cancer.


The assertion that higher testosterone causes enhanced prostate cancer growth has persisted as a medical myth since 1941 despite all evidence to the contrary. Longitudinal studies have repeatedly and consistently rejected this hypothesis. And if testosterone is “food for a hungry tumor,” then why is the cancer rate only 1% for men receiving testosterone replacement therapy when one of seven hypogonadal men has biopsy-detectable prostate cancer?

In summary, there is not today – nor has there ever been, in my opinion – a scientific basis for the contention that a higher testosterone concentration causes prostate cancer growth, acutely or long-term. It is here where we find the danger of beliefs rather than science impairing our ability to behave logically and consistently. We must make our own informed decisions based on science and evidence presented to us rather than fear.


For for more information on our therapies please contact Clinic Director Charlie Blaisdell at

BTP/CORE New England
920 Washington Street
Norwood, MA 02062
Clinic: 781-269-5953

Older Entries