How useful is the use of testosterone to prevent dementia?
Unfortunately, dementia is a widespread disease in Germany. An estimated 1.6 million people are affected by the disease. Experts even assume that the number of people affected could double in the period up to 2050. There have already been various discussions among doctors about whether the use of testosterone could lead to possible prophylaxis. However, the results of a current study do not recommend taking testosterone to prevent dementia.
Researchers have long said that testosterone could be an effective way to prevent dementia. Experts have been discussing the effectiveness of testosterone in treating dementia for nearly 15 years. During this period, the doctors found possible connections between low testosterone in the blood and the risk of dementia. However, a recent review on this topic shows that testosterone is not really an effective remedy for dementia.
Testosterone can delay dementia in mice
In experiments on mice, it was found that additional testosterone in the body of the mice protects the nerve cells of the animals. In addition, testosterone causes animals to delay dementia and reduce symptoms. However, these results were only found in mice and not in humans. In general, results from cell culture or animal experiments cannot be transferred directly to humans, the scientists explain. For this reason, further diverse epidemiological studies have been carried out. However, the results of these studies are extremely contradictory, say experts from the German Society for Internal Medicine (DGIM).
What factors influence the risk of dementia?
Testosterone or estrogen are so-called sex hormones, which can possibly protect the mental functions. This has already been derived from in vitro experiments and animal experiments. In older age, however, such hormones are released by the body in smaller amounts. This lower distribution is not the only reason for dementia in older people. Various risk factors such as overweight, high blood pressure, metabolic disorders, smoking and diabetes also affect the risk of dementia. In addition, a low level of education or an existing genetic disposition influence the likelihood of developing dementia, the authors explain.
Testosterone can cause unwanted side effects
The experts explain that taking testosterone in a dementia disease is currently not recommended. When treating dementia, it should also be borne in mind that most older people are already taking various other medications. For this reason, the intake of other active ingredients should be carefully considered in order to avoid unnecessary and undesirable side effects, explain the doctors. Another problem with the treatment with testosterone is that the intake of testosterone itself can cause unwanted side effects.
Every third case of dementia can be avoided
So far there are no reliable therapies for dementia diseases, which is why the prevention of dementia is particularly important, say the experts. For example, a recent study found that about every third case of dementia could be avoided. To prevent dementia, for example, obesity should be reduced, a healthy diet should be taken into account, physical and mental activity must be maintained, and people should under no circumstances smoke, the authors say. Doctors should also treat metabolic disorders or depression at an early stage, the doctors advise.
How can dementia be treated and what should sufferers pay attention to?
If neurologists still find dementia in humans, depending on the stage of the disease, various medications should be used for treatment. For this purpose, a so-called pharmacotherapy with cholinesterase inhibitors or memantine can be used, the scientists advise. Strategies for managing neuropsychiatric symptoms (such as anxiety and depression) are also important for the treatment of the disease. Apart from treating the symptoms, affected patients should make important decisions about their own future in good time, the experts add. (as)