Washington: A single shot of morphine, a narcotic pain reliever, may reduce your testosterone levels which have important health implications for men, a new study has claimed.
A team of Italian and American scientists who carried out the study on laboratory mice found that just one shot of the painkiller could drastically reduce the levels of the sex hormone in the animals` brain and plasma.
The research, published in Molecular Pain, showed that opioids had "long lasting genomic effects in body areas which contribute to strong central and peripheral testosterone levels" including the brain, the liver and the testis.
The findings are particularly important since testosterone is the main substrate of aromatase, which is involved in the formation of estradiol, said the researchers.
Both testosterone and estradiol are important hormones, engaged in cognitive functions as well as in mood, motor control and in many other functions, such as bone structure remodeling.
"Our lab became interested in gonadal hormones several years ago when it became clear that there were many differences in pain syndromes between the sexes," said lead researcher Dr Anna Maria Aloisi of the University of Siena, Italy.
"In looking at differences, it was immediately apparent that these changes were introduced by different treatments, opioids in particular."
Aloisi carried out the study along with a team of scientists from the Human Health Foundation in Spoleto, Italy, and Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Dr Marco Pappagallo, director of pain research and development at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, said the new findings are very relevant to the management of patients with chronic pain.
"Today, primary care physicians, pain specialists, and a variety of health care professionals are asked not only to treat pain but how to manage side effects of drugs and to strive for the best possible comprehensive care and wellness of patients who experience chronic pain," he said.
According scientists, opioid induced hypogonadism can cause health complications to which patients with pain can be overly susceptible, including chronic fatigue, loss of stamina, emotional and sexual disturbances, as well as painful skeletal and muscular complications.