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Are Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Drugs Overblown?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Testosterone replacement has long been touted for men who suffer from abnormally low levels of the male sex hormone, but new research from Consumer Reports finds that the benefits of the drugs may not be worth the risk.

"We started to really look, take a closer look at these drugs and we've discovered that there are some very significant risks and the benefits of them really may not be as fantastic perhaps as the ads might lead you to believe," says Lisa Gill, prescription drugs editor at Consumer Reports.

The potential dangers, Gill says, include "breast enlargement, blood clots in the legs, enlarged prostate, sleep apnea, fluid retention in both your ankles and your feet."

"Testosterone may actually speed up the growth of prostate cancers, which is very alarming to us, but really the most alarming risk is an increase risk of heart attack," she adds.

Gill points out that while drugmakers in their ads make it sound like many men have a low testosterone problem, most don't suffer from abnormally low levels of the male sex hormone.

"This condition -- hypo-gonadism -- really only affects less than 10 percent of the male population, probably something closer to about 5 or 6," she says.

If you think you suffer from abnormally low testosterone, Gill advises you make a doctor's appointment because it could indicate something greater.

"Low testosterone can be a sign of actually other conditions, things like heart disease or kidney failure, heart failure, even diabetes, having osteoporosis, problems with your pituitary gland, or even tumors on your pituitary glands," she says.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio