Overselling hysteria, dangerously: the media coverage of testosterone therapy in men
Testosterone has been used therapeutically for over 70 years in men suffering from the symptoms of testosterone deficiency (TD, hypogonadism), and a strong body of evidence suggests testosterone treatment is safe and efficacious in patients for whom it is indicated. Additionally, there exists sufficient data to recognize male hypogonadism as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Four recently published studies suggested that testosterone therapy is associated with myocardial infarction, stroke, and death. Although these studies are afflicted with poor study design, flawed data analysis and misinterpretations, and received nearly unanimous rejection by experts in the field, the mainstream media has catapulted the studies into the public spotlight with sensationalist headlines, creating a hysteria that has had far-reaching and dangerous implications for patients and physicians. The media-driven hysteria has created an environment in which pharmaceutical companies are being sued, physicians are withholding treatment from men suffering from testosterone deficiency, and the United States Food and Drug Administration has been petitioned to place a black box warning on testosterone products. The imbalanced media coverage has crossed a grave ethical line by interfering in the patient-physician relationship to the extent that patients are being harmed.