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ETpro's avatar

Should I volunteer for this medical research study?

Asked by ETpro (34208 points ) December 7th, 2011

I am usually, as George Bush so aptly put it, the decider guy. I listen to the facts, look a few things up if I need to, then pick a direction. It’s rare for me to agonize over a decision, but I find myself doing so on this. I’d like some input from the Fluther Collective. Here’s the “opportunity” I am contemplating.

Being in Boston provides the “opportunity” from time to time of volunteering to be a test subject in medical research. I say opportunity in quotes because being a medical guinea pig has real plusses and minuses, and it’s hard to asses which you will get. More on that below, as it relates to this particular research.

This trial is for men 65 and older who are in reasonably good health and who have not been eating a high-protein diet. I qualify on all those points. There are a long list of disqualifying ailments, and I’m free of any of those. The study is a 7-month study to see if a high-protein diet and daily testosterone supplements produce an increase in the ratio of lean muscle mass to fat in older men.

Direct benefits to me would be all the medical attention, feeling like I might contribute to science and, if it works, even to my own health and strength, and last but not least, 6 months worth of free food delivered weekly to my door. On the downside, the diet and testosterone might have undesired side effects, and it’s about a half-hour commute to get to the research facility; a trip I will be making 2 to 3 times a month for monitoring over the 7-month project.

What do you think? Should I go for it or let it pass?

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15 Answers

everephebe's avatar

Who is it with? I have some Boston medical research experience.

gailcalled's avatar

What are the sources of the protein? Meat, poultry,eggs, dairy and fish or non-animal proteins such as beans, soy and nuts?

I, personally,would never volunteer to eat lots of animal protein.

Doesn’t the literature for the study state the risks and downsides? Testosterone supplements don’t sound like the best choice either.

So, I vote “No.”

(Which research facility?)

wonderingwhy's avatar

I seem to recall something about testosterone supplements raising the risk prostate cancer not insignificantly. If that’s still the case, it would probably be enough to make me say no.

Other than that, I’ve known a couple people who’ve done the who guinea pig thing and it’s always worked out very well for them. Particularly the increased medical attention you mentioned. Each got various positive effect recommendations and treatments (including a free follow up or two for one guy) that may have otherwise gone overlooked even when not related to the experiment at hand.

If it were me, the testosterone (potential) side-effects would likely be the biggest determining factor. Beyond that, I’d have to be good with any other terms (such as being cost-liable if I drop out mid way through or treatment assurances if side-effects should become apparent) and feel comfortable with the doc’s involved. Green lights on each of those three things and I’d probably give it a shot.

Kayak8's avatar

Kudos to you for even considering such a contribution to medical knowledge!

JLeslie's avatar

I would do it if I were interested in taking testosterone and eating high protein anyway. Otherwise, generally speaking, I wouldn’t.

Do you have low testosterone? Or, are they giving you more when you are already in very good ranges? Many cancers seem to respond to hormones, so I think there is a risk. Having said that, the risk is probably fairly low if it is a limited amount of time.

Also, the body builders I know who eat high protein diets, many of them have high cholesterol and a very bad cholesterol ratio. But, you will be monitored, so I guess you can always quit the study if your bloodwork starts to significantly change.

I seem to remember you asking about this before, which makes me think you want to do it. Or, I might be confusing you with another jelly who was just asking about testosterone in general.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’d participate. But I’m a rat like dat.

rojo's avatar

I participated in a study a couple of years ago at TAMU (at 54). Turns out I was in the control group but someone has to be. It was a positive experience and based on it, I would participate in the study you have described.

ETpro's avatar

@everephebe It’s Boston University’s Center of Endocrinology at the Boston Medical Center.

@gailcalled I think it is mostly animal protein. Meat and fish with some eggs and milk products. That was exactly my concern. This is NEVER a diet I would chose for myself. I get most of my protien now from some poultry and fish, as well as nuts and whole grains, tofu and such. And I like that diet just as much as it seems to like me. See the answer to @everephebe for who is doing the research. I wouldn’t even ask, but I think I’m in good enough shape to survive 6n months of this and see where it leads.

@wonderingwhy I’m probably a bit low on the T scale, so the moderate does they contemplate probably won’t be a concern. So far, knock on wiid, I am entirely free of prostate problems.

@Kayak8 Thanks, IO think. Is that your way of suggesting it will probably kill me? :-)

@JLeslie Yes, I am on the low side for testosterone. SO I think the moderate dosages they plan to use will likley be safe for me, and might even give my libido a not-reallly-needed boost. I have a great LDL to HDL ratio now. Of course, I maintain a diet that encourages that.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I’m leaning toward doing so as well. I love the science of it, and am pretty sure I can survive a 6 month hiatus from a sane diet.

@rojo Thanks. I may end up in the control group, but even so, I will have to stick to the required diet. The thing is, I really couldn’t care less if they give me placebos instead of the real testosterone.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro If you do it let me know how it goes. I know someone who also is low testosterone and he is thinking about taking testosterone.

zensky's avatar

No, but that’s just me. I volunteer for other things non-medical.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie The testosterone might intefere with my long-term memory. All I’l be thinking about is sex. So remind me. :-)

@zensky THanks for your take.

Ron_C's avatar

I just got a letter asking me to join the same study. I considered it but decided that my life is complicated enough and don’t want to risk taking extra drugs. Good luck if you decide to do it I hear the extra testosterone makes you horny and stronger. Hope you partner can take it!

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C I didn’t qualify. They gave me a physical ability test and determined I was too damned good for them. They wanted guys with impaired mobility or balance. Now my wife could have told them how imbalanced I am, but their tests somehow failed to detect that.

Ron_C's avatar

@ETpro yeah, one of the tests was the inability to walk a quarter of a mile. I can do that with no problem. In the summer I ride my bike on a daily 6 mile round trip to work. I’m just too healthy. Frankly, I don’t know anyone in our age range that is sick enough to qualify for free testosterone.

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C Oh, they are out there, all right.

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