Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "
Testosterone not a miracle cure for older men
Amazing stuff, testosterone. Put it in a gel and get older men to spread it over their skin, and lo and behold: fading Lotharios come back to life. They become fitter and their sex life blossoms. At least, that's what the popular press would have us believe. But it's a shame that much of the popular media reporting is done by overworked and underpaid text slaves, who don't have the time to read a study properly.
The study was partly financed by AbbVie, the manufacturer of the testosterone gel AndroGel.
The pro-sexual effect declined as the trial continued. In the last month of the experiment the men in the testosterone group only had sex once more in five weeks than they had done before administration started.
The effect was not big, but it was statistically significant. None of the other effects that the researchers measured were as big as this.
The figure below suggests that the men became fitter. It shows the percentage of men who as a result of the testosterone or a placebo were able to run at least 50 metres more in six minutes than before administration.
The figure is a little confusing, so being our industrious selves we have made our own figure based on the data from the study, which you can see below. It shows the average number of metres that the men were able to run in six minutes. That's easier to understand.
Before the trial started the men were capable of running 387 metres. At the end of the trial, for the men that had used the testosterone gel, the distance had increased by 14 metres. For the men in the placebo group the distance increased by 7 metres.
More men in the testosterone group developed prostate cancer than in the placebo group; more also developed a raised PSA and higher haematocrit levels.
None of these effects were statistically significant either, but the researchers suggest this might have been because the number of subjects was too small. "The number of participants was too few to draw conclusions about the risks of testosterone treatment", the researchers write.