Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Diabetes link to low testosterone levels in men

Testosterone helps build muscle
Image caption Testosterone levels diminish as a man ages, increasing the likelihood of obesity and diabetes

Men with low levels of testosterone could be at greater risk of developing diabetes, a study has suggested.

Edinburgh University researchers found low testosterone levels are linked to a resistance to insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels.

Testosterone is present throughout the body and low levels are associated with increased obesity, a known risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.

The study found evidence of increased risk regardless of body mass index.

Dr Kerry McInnes, of Edinburgh University, said: "We know that men with low testosterone levels are more likely to become obese and as a result, develop diabetes.

"This study shows that low testosterone is a risk factor for diabetes no matter how much a person weighs. As men age their testosterone levels lower.

"This, along with increasing obesity, will increase the incidence of diabetes."

The research team said the study is the first to directly show how low testosterone levels in fat tissue can be "instrumental" in the onset of the condition.

Body weight

They said the findings show that mice with impaired testosterone function in fat tissue were more likely to be insulin-resistant.

However, they also found insulin resistance occurs in mice when testosterone function was impaired regardless of body weight.

The researchers said the findings could help explain why older men are more at risk of developing diabetes because testosterone levels fall in men as they age.

The scientists believe a protein called RBP4 plays a crucial role in regulating insulin resistance when testosterone is impaired.

They also found levels of the protein are higher in mice with decreased testosterone.

Now the team hopes its findings could lead to treatments that regulate production of RBP4 and reduce the risk of diabetes in men with less testosterone.

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