June 26, 2012
Behavioral And Health Changes Decrease Levels Of Testosterone
Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com
Australian scientists recently looked in to testosterone and its progression in males from young to old age and discovered that gradual decline in testosterone levels is more likely caused by a man´s behavioral and health changes rather than aging.
The findings were presented at The Endocrine´s Society´s 94th Annual Meeting that took place recently in Houston. The Endocrine Society is an organization focused on research of hormones and the practice of endocrinology. In particular, many older men are thought to have lower levels of sex hormone testosterone. Even though the cause is unknown, some population-based studies have found that the changes in testosterone levels are similar among men of the same age over time.
"Declining testosterone levels are not an inevitable part of the aging process, as many people think," explained study co-author Dr. Gary Wittert, professor of medicine at the University of Adelaide in Australia, in a prepared statement. "Testosterone changes are largely explained by smoking behavior and changes in health status, particularly obesity and depression."
The study was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.
The researchers studied the testosterone measurements in over 1,500 men who had measurements taken during two clinical visits between a five-year period. The blood testosterone samples were tested at the same time for each visit. In analyzing the data, the investigators excluded men who had abnormal lab values, who were taking medications, or who were noted to have medical conditions that affected hormones. In total, 1,382 men were included in the study, with an average age of 54 and an age range of 35 to 80 years.
Overall, testosterone levels did not level off very much over the five-year period. The testosterone levels were found to decrease less than one percent each year. When the scientist examined the data in terms of subgroups, they discovered that certain factors were related to lower testosterone levels five years later than at the beginning of the study.
"Men who had declines in testosterone were more likely to be those who became obese, had stopped smoking or were depressed at either clinic visit," noted Wittert in the statement. "While stopping smoking may be a cause of a slight decrease in testosterone, the benefit of quitting smoking is huge."
As well, depression and low testosterone have been seen to be connected in past research.
"It is critical that doctors understand that declining testosterone levels are not a natural part of aging and that they are most likely due to health-related behaviors or health status itself," remarked Wittert in the statement.
Furthermore, in the study, married men were found to have less testosterone reductions than unmarried men. In particular, testosterone is valuable in assisting many different bodily functions, such as maintaining a healthy body composition, fertility, and sex drive. Wittert states that past research shows how married men tend to be healthier and happier than unmarried men.
"Also, regular sexual activity tends to increase testosterone," Wittert explained in the statement.