Chronic opioid use linked to low testosterone levels



– About two thirds of men who chronically use opioids have low testosterone levels, based on a literature search of more than 50 randomized and observational studies that examined endocrine function in patients on chronic opioid therapy.

Hypocortisolism, seen in about 20% of the men in these studies, was among the other potentially significant deficiencies in endocrine function, Amir H. Zamanipoor Najafabadi, PhD, reported at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.

Dr. Najafabadi of Leiden University in the Netherlands, and Friso de Vries, PhD, analyzed the link between opioid use and changes in the gonadal axis. Most of the subjects in their study were men (J Endocr Soc. 2019. doi. 10.1210/js.2019-SUN-489).

While the data do not support firm conclusions on the health consequences of these endocrine observations, Dr. Najafabadi said that a prospective trial is needed to determine whether there is a potential benefit from screening patients on chronic opioids for potentially treatable endocrine deficiencies.

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