Emotions and Weight Affect Testosterone Levels
A recent study suggests men’s testosterone levels are significantly affected by their health and lifestyle choices.
Testosterone levels reduce by about one percent a year in men over 40. A team from the New England Research Institutes in Massachusetts investigated the influence of modifiable factors such as body mass index (BMI).
Dr. Thomas Travison and colleagues analyzed data on 1,667 Boston men ages 40 through 70. The men were followed for up to 16 years as part of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study (MMAS), a long-term study looking at men’s health and hormones. It encompasses the participants’ chronic illness, smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, and exercise levels.
The men were recruited between 1987 and 1989, and followed up with at two time points – 1995 to 1997, and 2002 to 2004. During follow-up, there were substantial increases in chronic illness and weight, and a rise in smoking and prescription drug-taking.
The researchers found the usual decline in testosterone with age. But they also found that moving from a non-obese to an obese BMI category was linked to a reduction in testosterone equivalent to 10 years of aging. The loss of a spouse also was associated with a 10-year equivalent reduction in testosterone.
“Many health and lifestyle changes were associated with accelerated decline,” the team reported in a recent article in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. “Co-morbidities and lifestyle influences may be as strongly associated with declining testosterone levels as is aging itself over the short- to mid-term.” But it cannot be proved that these lifestyle changes are the cause of testosterone declines.
Low testosterone levels may contribute to myriad health conditions, including diabetes, osteoporosis and impaired sexual function.
The researchers made a distinction between aging and “para-aging,” the avoidable conditions common among older adults. They suggested that health and lifestyle factors could be managed to help slow age-related testosterone decline.