Busting a lung

Most regular gym goers will be familiar with feelings of tiredness and breathless after a hard workout. If we’ve judged our performance level right though, these sensations usually come with a real sense of achievement. Not to mention endorphins a-plenty, giving that well-earned natural high.

Keep up an regular, intense and sensible regime, long-term, the physical and mental benefits far outweigh any post-training fatigue and discomfort.

Unfortunately there are millions worldwide who are equally familiar with shortness of breath and exhaustion. The difference is it’s not through choice, not short lived and brings no health advantages at all.

People with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) often struggle to do even the simplest tasks. At its most severe, the condition is incredibly debilitating and leaves sufferers at constant medical risk.

COPD currently has no cure and focus is on ways to best manage the condition to prolong, not just life, but also quality of life.

Now, promisingly, new research suggests that the very stuff which powers us through hard workouts could help COPD sufferers through even harder days. Testosterone may slow the progression of chronic lung problems.

What is COPD?

COPD isn’t actually just one illness, but an umbrella term for a number of long lasting lung complaints.

These include emphysema, which is damaged air sacs in the lungs; bronchitis, an inflammation of your airways; and refractory asthma. Refractory asthma differs from its more common form in that it is usually ongoing and largely treatment resistant.

One or more of these conditions affects around 65 million people the world over. Roughly 17 million in the U.S and 1.2 million in the U.K. How serious COPD is varies so some cases can go undiagnosed for years. If left untreated though most will get worse with time.

The symptoms of COPD are what you might expect:

  • Becoming easily breathless
  • Bad, nagging cough
  • Frequent chest infections
  • Continuous wheezing

Though COPD can’t be cured yet, there are treatments and techniques which can make it easier to live with. These include: lifestyle changes such as giving up smoking, medication and inhalers or lung rehab exercises. In a few select cases even a lung transplant.

While smoking causes the majority of cases, it can also be triggered by exposure to harmful fumes and dust or by a rare genetic problem.

Lots of people with COPD achieve effective symptom management with treatment and live a good quality and length of life. But doctors are always searching for ways to improve things even further.

That’s where this new work comes in.

How can T help?

Working off data showing low T in male COPD is common, researchers set out to check supplementation effects.

The team from University of Texas used the Clinformatic Data Mart, which holds data on one of the largest health insured groups in the U.S. 450 male COPD patients aged 40-63 who began T replacement therapy (TRT) between 2005 and 2014 were looked at.

To explore a higher age range 253 COPD patients aged 66 and were also drawn from the national Medicare database. These men underwent TRT between 2005 and 2014.

Lead author, the University’s Professor of Preventative Medicine, Jacques Baillargeon reports:

“Previous studies have suggested that testosterone replacement therapy may have a positive effect on lung function in men with COPD. However, we are the first to conduct a large scale nationally representative study on this association.”

Sure enough, subjects given extra T saw fewer COPD related trips to hospital than those who didn’t.

Middle aged patients taking T saw a 4.2% decrease in hospitalization due to breathing difficulties. While older patients on TRT saw a 9.1% drop in stays.

The answer isn’t blowing in the wind

There was no out and out fix for COPD before this testosterone breakthrough and regrettably there still isn’t one now.

But it looks like T supplementation could be another vital tool in effective COPD management. Even a game changer for those who haven’t had the best of luck with treatment to this point.

It seems ridiculously obvious to say, but the lungs are one of the most important elements of our internal engine. We need a lot of oxygen to do what we do day to day. Think about how unbelievably energy sapping it is when a passing chest infection knocks them even slightly out of whack.

It’s worth pointing out then that the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts COPD will be the third-leading cause of illness and death by 2030. Thanks mainly to rising levels of pollution in the atmosphere.

So if high T has a role in keep our bodily bagpipes working at their best, then we should all be keeping those hormone levels up.

Remember though if you’re fighting fit right now there’s no excuse to be getting your boost from a bottle. There are plenty of ways to give your male hormone a natural nudge in the right direction.

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  • Charles Fitzhugh 9th April 2019

    I hear that free testosterone is the main issue. Is there a way to access (bound up) “T”? I have suspected a low T condition in me for a while. I supplement strongly and have added K2 and more D3 and eating better food, is there more I can do?

    • Rob Wright 9th April 2019

      Hi Charles,

      What are you supplementing with? If you are looking at increasing ‘free’ T rather than the overall levels look at ingredients which have shown to reduce SHBG (sex hormone binding hormone). Magnesium, nettle root extract are examples. There has also been work done showing that insulin levels affect SHBG, it’s one of the reasons Fenugreek is included in test boosters.

      Hope this helps,