To check their testosterone levels, men must take a lab test. But a new study says there is a way to find out the levels: they’re linked to childhood environments. What does that mean?
Researchers found out that the level of men’s testosterone depended on where they lived, as well as the geographic settings which can alter the levels in childhood. As they reach adulthood, men are no longer affected by ecology.
The study was published online in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, on 25 June.
Testosterone Based on Childhood Environment
Young boys that live in a challenging environment and were exposed to dangerous diseases had lower levels of testosterone as adults. Boys that grew up in healthy environments and privileged families had higher testosterone levels as adults.
The findings suggest that testosterone levels have little to do with hereditary influences.
Energy is crucial in testosterone levels. Boys that grew in less favorable environments used more energy and had lower testosterone levels. The ones that had fewer challenges, had higher testosterone levels.
Dr. Kesson Magid, lead author of the study, added that:
“Once a male ‘commits’ a proportion of his investment to reproduction it determines his regular levels of testosterone for the rest of his adult life.”
What Did the Researchers Analyze?
The researchers studied data from a total of 359 men. They came from different environments: 107 born and raised in Bangladesh, 59 born in Bangladesh but moved to the UK as a child, 56 born in the UK and had parents from Bangladesh and the rest were Native Europeans.
Height, weight, the age of puberty and health figures were considered in the study. Researchers found out that men growing up in the UK has a high level of testosterone compared to those growing up in Bangladesh. The men in the UK were also taller, reaching puberty faster.
According to the researchers, ethnicity doesn’t have a role in testosterone levels of adult men, but the environment does.
High testosterone levels have been linked to prostate cancer and other illnesses. Low testosterone levels are linked to low libido. The study’s coauthor Professor Gillian Bentley suggests that screenings for illnesses like prostate cancer or libido must consider childhood environment:
“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.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.