By NBH, Ph.D., Director of Education & Research, Natural Bio Health
Why Do Men Suffer From Low Testosterone? *Pesticides, heavy metals, estrogen added to our meat supply and to our dairy cows, genetically modified foods, medication like statin drugs, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, stress, obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, all play a role in declining testosterone levels in men. *Aging of course is a significant factor in the declining of all hormones including testosterone, DHEA and Human Growth Hormone. *All of these factors plus birth control pills, contribute to low levels of testosterone found in women.
Male Frogs Lose Their Manhood. Atrazine is a herbicide that has been extensively used in the US since the early 60’s. This time frame corresponds to the beginning of the present obesity epidemic. In studies with male frogs, exposed by ground water containing atrazine, the frogs lost their manhood (no sex drive) and in fact gained female characteristics. HFC (high fructose corn syrup) has atrazine. *Other pesticides and herbicides, along with the dumping of toxins in our water and air, affect the hormones in our body, including testosterone.
Lab Tests. *If you test the lab values of free testosterone, you often find that the majority of men over the age of 30 do not have optimal levels of testosterone. It is also true that many men in their twenties may have low levels of free testosterone. Men are often tested for total testosterone by their family practitioners, most often done at the request of the patient.
Lab values of total testosterone can range from 254 to 875 (ranges differ with different labs). The more conventional approach to interpreting labs is to say to the patient “you are in range so you are fine.” The term “in range,” means that you are 254 or above. *Regardless of any symptoms the patient may have, he may be told that he does not need testosterone. Free testosterone and Sex Hormone Binding Globulin should be measured to get a complete picture of testosterone. Free testosterone is the active form while total testosterone is “protein bound” or the reserve. Other tests include LH (Luteinizing Hormone) and Prolactin are other tests.
Symptoms of Declining Testosterone Levels. *Declining levels can lead to the development of numerous symptoms such as a decrease in virility, libido and sexual activity, general sense of well-being, as well as fatigue, depression and sleep disturbances. In addition to problems such as sexual dysfunction or general malaise, low testosterone also translates into decreased muscle mass and strength, as well as a decrease in bone mass and an increase in abdominal fat. Studies show that the latter two pay a role in degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Moreover, depleted testosterone levels are being linked to the incidence of various lipid disorders and heart disease.
“Low testosterone levels for men can mean high health risks. After decades of research and hype surrounding female menopause and hormone replacement therapy, men have recently started receiving some attention about their own age-related hormonal decline – andropause.”
Less bone, more fat. *While osteoporosis hasn’t always been considered a disease that afflicts males, the rising incidence of bone mass degeneration among aging men points a finger to some age-related cause. As androgen receptors are expressed in osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) researchers now believe that androgens have some direct effect on bone formation and resorption.
Declining Testosterone, Fat Mass and Heart Risk. *A growing body of research now suggests that an age-related increase in fat mass, or obesity, can be attributed to a fall in free testosterone and growth hormone levels. Moreover, studies report a connection between abdominal obesity and increased cardiovascular mortality and Type II diabetes mellitus. Recent findings from the UniversityHospital in Ghent, Belgium illustrate that age is related to a drop in free testosterone levels and free insulin-like growth factor-1, while contributing to an increase in body mass index and fat mass.
One recent study consisting of 372 males aged >20-85, revealed that body mass index and age were independent factors in determining testosterone levels. These decreased by about one quarter when researchers compared the young controls to men in the elderly group, while free testosterone levels fell by almost half with age. Likewise, fat-free mass decreased by 18.9%. In a subgroup of 57 men aged 70-80 years, the lower that testosterone levels dropped, the higher the percentage of body and abdominal fat, as well as plasma insulin levels.
Low Testosterone and Increased Risk of Diabetes and Adipose Fat. Other findings indicate that low testosterone levels predisposed men to adipose fat which, in turn, seemed to raise their risk of diabetes mellitus. Researchers at the University of Washington’s Department of Medicine set out to examine the effects of age-related decreasing serum testosterone levels on intra-abdominal fat in a group of 110 second-generation healthy Japanese-American men. Measurements were taken first to establish baseline levels of glucose, body mass index, visceral adiposity, subcutaneous fat, fasting insulin and C-peptide levels, and overall testosterone levels (which were within the normal range relative to the men’s age).
When the researchers performed follow-up measurements 7.5 years later, their results indicated that intra-abdominal fat had increased by an average of 8.0 centimeters squared. More importantly, though, they found that the change in intra-abdominal fat correlated to baseline total testosterone levels, but they were not significantly related to other measurements such as body mass index, total fat or subcutaneous fat. The study authors concluded that, in their sample, “lower baseline total testosterone independently predicts an increase in intra-abdominal fat. This would suggest that by predisposing to an increase in visceral adiposity, low levels of testosterone may increase the risk of type II diabetes mellitus.”
Low testosterone Levels, Excess Abdominal Fat and Heart Disease. Similarly, another study that analyzed some of the health effects of excess abdominal fat, also referred to as android obesity, reported that individuals exhibiting upper body excess fat distribution tend to have lower levels of plasma testosterone and growth hormone levels, suggesting what the authors describe as “complex hormonal abnormalities”.
*Abdominal obesity lends itself to an apple-shaped figure and has been related to a heightened risk of conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. These researchers believe that, “Visceral fat tissue, through its portal drainage, could be an important source for free fatty acids that may exert complex metabolic effects: involvement in hepatic lipogenesis, increase in hepatic neoglucogenic flux, reduction in insulin metabolic clearance and involvement in peripheral insulin resistance through a competition mechanism described by Randle.”
They conclude that abdominal obesity may be related to diabetes by means of an enhanced fatty acid made available from fat tissues (visceral and subcutaneous) in individuals who are genetically predisposed to type II diabetes. Research has also pointed to the possibility of a link between abdominal obesity and hypercorticism, or elevated cortisol levels. A reason for this, suggest scientists, might be that excess cortisol opposes testosterone and growth hormone production, both of which are regulators of body fat. Moreover, low testosterone levels also seem to encourage cortisol levels to rise and elicit their many aging effects, including immune dysfunction, brain cell injury, arterial wall damage and other assaults.
Hypogonadism (low testosterone) and Heart Trouble. *Low testosterone levels have also been implicated in playing a role in the development of chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis and cardiovascular heart disease. One study found that, in assessing a group of men and postmenopausal women over 50 years of age for levels of various hormones as they might relate to health conditions, plasma estradiol levels were highest in hypertensive men and testosterone levels were lowest in men with coronary heart disease. The researchers conclude that perhaps, “Decreased testosterone and/or increased estradiol may have an adverse effect on lipid profile in elderly men.”
Another study conducted among a male population likewise reported that low testosterone may be a risk factor for coronary heart disease, which may relate to lipoprotein metabolism by endogenous testosterone. Results showed that mean plasma testosterone levels among patients with coronary heart disease were significantly—about 40%—lower than in healthy subjects. Moreover, there was a negative association between plasma testosterone levels and plasma triglyceride levels and lipoprotein (a), which translated into higher blood lipid levels relative to lower testosterone levels. Contrarily, a positive association between plasma testosterone levels and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein 3 cholesterol meant that higher testosterone levels equaled higher “good” cholesterol levels.