Men with low levels of testosterone could be at greater risk of developing diabetes, a study has suggested.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh found low testosterone levels are linked to a resistance to insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels.
Testosterone is present throughout the body and low levels are associated with increased obesity, a known risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.
But scientists said the study provides evidence of increased risk “even when body mass is not affected”.
Dr Kerry McInnes, from the university’s endocrinology unit, said: “We know that men with low testosterone levels are more likely to become obese and as a result, develop diabetes.
“This study shows that low testosterone is a risk factor for diabetes no matter how much a person weighs. As men age their testosterone levels lower.
“This, along with increasing obesity, will increase the incidence of diabetes.”
The research team said the study is the first to directly show how low testosterone levels in fat tissue can be “instrumental” in the onset of the condition.
They said the findings show that mice with impaired testosterone function in fat tissue were more likely to be insulin-resistant. However, they also reveal that insulin resistance occurs in mice when testosterone function was impaired regardless of body weight.