Nav: Home

Men's testosterone levels largely determined by where they grow up

June 25, 2018

Men's testosterone levels are largely determined by their environment during childhood, according to new research.

The Durham University-led study suggests that men who grow up in more challenging conditions where there are lots of infectious diseases, for example, are likely to have lower testosterone levels in later life than those who spend their childhood in healthier environments.

The study, published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, challenges the theory that testosterone levels are controlled by genetics or race.

As high testosterone levels potentially lead to an increased risk of prostate enlargement and cancer, the researchers suggest that any screening for risk profiles may need to take a man's childhood environment into account.

The study found that Bangladeshi men who grew up and lived as adults in the UK had significantly higher levels of testosterone compared to relatively well-off men who grew up and lived in Bangladesh as adults. Bangladeshis in Britain also reached puberty at a younger age and were taller than men who lived in Bangladesh throughout their childhood.

The researchers say the differences are linked to energy investment as it may only be possible to have high testosterone levels if there are not many other demands placed on the body such as fighting off infections.?In environments where people are more exposed to disease or poor nutrition, developing males direct energy towards survival at the cost of testosterone.

The researchers collected data from 359 men on height, weight, age of puberty and other health information along with saliva samples to examine their testosterone levels. They compared the following groups: men born and still resident in Bangladesh; Bangladeshi men who moved to the UK (London) as children; Bangladeshi men who moved to the UK as adults; second-generation, UK-born men whose parents were Bangladeshi migrants; and UK-born ethnic Europeans.

Lead author of the study, Dr Kesson Magid from Durham University's Department of Anthropology (UK), said: "A man's absolute levels of testosterone are unlikely to relate to their ethnicity or where they live as adults but instead reflect their surroundings when they were children."

Men with higher levels of testosterone are at greater risk of potentially adverse effects of this hormone on health and ageing. Very high levels can mean increased muscle mass, increased risk of prostate diseases and have been linked to higher aggression. Very low testosterone levels in men can include lack of energy, loss of libido and erectile dysfunction. The testosterone levels of the men in the study were, however, all in a range that would unlikely have an impact on their fertility.

Co-author Professor Gillian Bentley from Durham University, commented: "Very high and very low testosterone levels can have implications for men's health and it could be important to know more about men's childhood circumstances to build a fuller picture of their risk factors for certain conditions or diseases."

Aspects of male reproductive function remain changeable into adolescence, up to the age of 19 and are more flexible in early rather than late childhood, according to the research. However, the study suggests that, in adulthood, men's testosterone levels are no longer heavily influenced by their surroundings.

Senior co-author Gillian Bentley and colleagues have also previously found that the environment in which girls grow up can affect their hormone levels, fertility and risk levels for reproductive cancers as adults.
-end-
The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Royal Society and Prostate Cancer UK, and involved researchers from the University of Chittagong (Bangladesh), Durham University (UK), and Northwestern University (USA).

Durham University

Related Testosterone Articles:

ACP issues guideline for testosterone treatment in adult men with age-related low testosterone
Physicians should prescribe testosterone for men with age-related low testosterone only to treat sexual dysfunction, the American College of Physicians (ACP) says in a new evidence-based clinical practice guideline.
Women with asthma appear more likely to have lower levels of testosterone
Women with asthma appear more likely to have lower levels of 'free' (not attached to proteins) testosterone than women who do not have asthma, according to new research published online in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Penis development needs more than just testes and testosterone
Proper development of the fetal penis requires not just testosterone from the testes, but a second hormone produced by other tissues, including the placenta, according to a new study publishing Feb.
Testosterone treatment over 10 years can improve or reverse type 2 diabetes in men with low testosterone, and induce significant weight loss
New research presented at this year's annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) reveals that in men with low testosterone who have type 2 diabetes (T2D), testosterone therapy can improve their disease and reverse its progress, and can also induce significant weight loss.
Testosterone replacement therapy may slow the progression of COPD
GALVESTON, Texas -- Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that testosterone replacement therapy may slow disease progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Testosterone research brings new hope for cancer patients
Approximately 20 percent of cancer related deaths are attributed to the syndrome of cachexia.
Testosterone prescriptions have sharply dropped in the past few years
Testosterone use in the United States tripled between 2001 and 2011, mostly in men without a clear indication for it.
Use of prescribed testosterone therapy in US decreases in recent years
Testosterone use in the United States tripled from 2001 through 2011, mostly in men without a clear indication.
Testosterone causes men to desire luxury goods
Researchers examine testosterone's effect on men's desire for goods that are considered to have social cachet.
Men's testosterone levels largely determined by where they grow up
Men's testosterone levels are largely determined by their environment during childhood, according to new research.
More Testosterone News and Testosterone Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Debbie Millman: Designing Our Lives
From prehistoric cave art to today's social media feeds, to design is to be human. This hour, designer Debbie Millman guides us through a world made and remade–and helps us design our own paths.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Insomnia Line
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So what'd Radiolab decide to do?  Open up the phone lines and talk to you. We created an insomnia hotline and on this week's experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through.   This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens. Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.