Health News Review

TIME magazine’s cover boy this week is a shirtless middle-aged man under the headline,”Manopause?! – Aging, insecurity and the $2 billion testosterone industry.”

Overall, it was an interesting story, well told.  It discussed the hype, the amount of money some people are making off of Low T “therapies,”  the uncertainties, the potential hazards, and the fact that the FDA has “scheduled a meeting of experts for September to sort out red flags from red herrings in the disputed science of T therapy.”

I had a few criticisms.

  • The story was generous in the amount of attention it gave to an entrepeneur who runs 49 clinics in 11 states, including a full-page photo of the guy and two of his female assistants standing in front of autographed jerseys from Brett Favre and Brian Urlacher – unexplained.  Is the innuendo that these retired pro football stars have been treated at the guy’s clinics?

 

Network television morning programs gave the TIME cover even more of a boost.

The NBC Today Show featured Siobhan O’Connor, TIME’s health director, who said, “The promise is absolutely incredible.” The relatively unfocused 3 1/2 minute segment wandered back and forth among the hype and the unknowns and the potential hazards of Low T therapy.  But, hey, what do you care if the discussion is unfocused when your cover story is getting 3.5 minutes of free network TV promotion?

Uncertainties and potential hazards didn’t stop one anchor from displaying what one writer called a “reckless attitude.” On MSNBC’s Morning Joe program, there was this exchange among anchors:

THOMAS ROBERTS: I want to know more about “manopause.” If the doctor told me that I had low-T, I would take this without hesitation.

NANCY GIBBS, TIME managing editor: And without wondering what the possible health risks are?

ROBERTS: No. I want to live today, I will borrow from tomorrow.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Wow! Okay!

NICOLLE WALLACE: Oh, my God.

ROBERTS: We only got the now. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.

Men’s Journal reviewed the TIME cover story:

“the story outlines the boom in testosterone products without providing real insight on what, exactly, can help prevent it or when testosterone supplements are even needed. Unlike for a woman, for whom its very clear when she hits menopause — her menstrual period stops — it’s much more slippery for men to define if or when they’re in “manopause,” especially since men can father children into their 80s. And therein lies the problem with the the term: There’s a good chance that men of a certain age are only looking for an easy way to lose weight, add muscle, and get more energy.”

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