A new Australian-first study will use male hormone testosterone, along with a nutritional supplement, in a bid to reduce the number of under-nourished older people ending up in hospital.
The three year, $1 million project will be undertaken by Caulfield Hospital, along with the University of Adelaide and University of Sydney.
Principal investigator Associate Professor Peter Hunter says the study will look at the effects on hospital admissions in under-nourished people.
"We will be recruiting people for this study who are over 65 years old, living independently and at risk of under-nourishment," Peter said.
"We know that as people get older, their appetites tend to decrease and after 60 years their body weight drops, due to loss of muscle mass. Muscle loss and reduced food intake predisposes people to under-nutrition. It is this frailty which leads to hospital admissions, with an increased risk of falls, disability and mortality."
In the community, about 10-15% of people over 65 years are undernourished. This figure is higher in nursing homes.
A high kilojoules nutritional drink, high in sugars, fats and protein, has been specially formulated for the research trial. A low kilojoules drink will be used as a placebo in a second group of participants, along with a placebo testosterone.
Testosterone has been shown to improve muscle strength, cognitive capabilities and improve quality of life measures, such as libido. It is hoped the combined therapy will lead to fewer days in hospital for those requiring a hospital admission, a longer lifespan and improved body composition, as well as better quality of life. A low dose of testosterone will be given to female participants, to avoid any side effects.
Recruiting for this study will begin this month. Caulfield Hospital hopes to recruit 60-70 people, while about 200 participants will take part over the three sites.
If you are interested in participating in the study, call Dr Nicole Austin on 9076 6333.