Statins, or HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, decrease cholesterol production. Because cholesterol is a precursor of the testosterone biosynthesis pathway, there is some concern that statins might lower serum testosterone levels. The objective of the present study was to investigate the association between the use of statins and serum testosterone levels in men.
Cross-sectional study within the prospective population-based Rotterdam Study.
Subjects and methods
We included 4166 men with available data on total testosterone, non-sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG)-bound testosterone, and medication use. Multivariable linear regression analysis was used to compare the differences in serum testosterone levels (nmol/l) between current, past, and never statin users. We considered dose and duration of use. Analyses were adjusted for age, BMI, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and estradiol levels.
We identified 577 current (mean age 64.1 years), 148 past (mean age 64.6 years), and 3441 never (mean age 64.6 years) statin users. Adjusted for all covariables, current statin use of 1–≤6 months or >6 months was significantly associated with lower total testosterone levels as compared to non-users (β −1.24, 95% CI −2.17, −0.31, and β −1.14, 95% CI −2.07, −0.20 respectively). Current use of 1–≤6 months was also associated with significantly lower non-SHBG-bound testosterone levels (β −0.42, 95% CI −0.82, −0.02). There was a trend toward lower testosterone levels at higher statin doses both for total (P trend 2.9×10−5) and non-SHBG-bound (P trend 2.0×10−4) testosterone. No association between past statin use and testosterone levels was found.
We showed that current use of statins was associated with significantly lower serum total and non-SHBG-bound testosterone levels. The clinical relevance of this association should be further investigated.