May 04, 2010
Obesity Lowers Male Testosterone?

A connection exists between obesity and testosterone.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Obesity, a condition linked to heart disease and diabetes, now appears to be associated with another health problem, but one that affects men only -- low testosterone levels.

Results of a study published online ahead of print in the journal Diabetes Care, conducted by University at Buffalo endocrinologists, showed that 40 percent of obese participants involved in the Hypogonadism in Males (HIM) study had lower-than-normal testosterone readings.

The percentage rose to 50 percent among obese men with diabetes. Results also revealed that as body mass index (BMI) -- a relationship of weight–to-height -- increased, testosterone levels fell.

Longitudinal studies to show how testosterone varies with time as people diet and gain weight would help to sort out the direction of causation. Does obesity lower testosterone or does the causality flow from a testosterone drop causing a weight gain?

Diabetes also might lower testosterone.

"The effect of diabetes on lowering testosterone levels was similar to that of a weight gain of approximately 20 pounds," says Sandeep Dhindsa, MD, an endocrinology specialist in the UB Department of Medicine and first author on the study.

Obese men could try testosterone to see if it helped take the weight off.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 May 04 12:43 AM  Aging Weight Studies


Comments
razib said at May 4, 2010 2:21 AM:

i have wondered about the effect of greater obesity on aggregate population behavior. specifically, if the crime drop of the last generation had something to do with fatitude. though it really dropped in the 1990s.

Brett Bellmore said at May 4, 2010 3:18 AM:

"Does obesity lower testosterone or does the causality flow from a testosterone drop causing a weight gain?"

No reason the causality can't run both ways at the same time, unfortunately.

Paleo Garden said at May 4, 2010 5:25 AM:

Insulin down regulates growth hormone. With chronic high levels of insulin, not only will you have a greater chance of diabetes and will more likely become obese, the resulting levels of low growth hormone (from these high levels of insulin) will in turn down regulate testosterone.

So, yes, obese men have lower levels of testosterone. But for the overwhelming majority of these obese men they have high levels of insulin. How do they maintain such high levels of insulin? They eat an enormous amount of carbohydrates, overwhelmingly from wheat, corn, rice, potato, soy, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar. Very little of their carbohydrate caloric intake comes from fruits and vegetables.

The obese men with low levels of testosterone eat a diet high in neolithic foods (e.g., wheat, corn, rice, potato, soy, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar) and very low in paleolithic foods (meat/seafood, vegetables and fruit).

It's carbohydrate-laden foods with very little nutritional content (again, wheat, corn, rice, potato, soy, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar) that give high blood glucose levels. High glucose levels result in high insulin levels. High insulin levels result in low growth hormone levels. Chronic low growth hormone levels result in low testosterone levels.

Testosterone supplementation in the context of a metabolic milieu with high levels of insulin (from a crappy high carbohydrate/sugar diet) will result in a confusing cacophonous crosstalk of hormones that are butting heads from an abnormal neolithic diet with the introduction of outside testosterone supplementation which would be unprecedented in the 2 million evolutionary history of our genome.

My humble opinion is: Forget the testosterone supplementation. Forget the Viagra. And in the same turn, forget eating neolithic foods such as wheat, corn, rice, potato, soy, and high fructose corn syrup. And limit your sugar intake. This will result in NORMAL levels of insulin (low levels of insulin compared to our sugar-eating neolithic couch potato peers). Normal/lower levels of insulin will result in high levels of growth hormone (especially between meals and overnight). NORMAL/higher levels of growth hormone will result in higher/NORMAL levels of testosterone.

Kyle Eubank said at May 5, 2010 12:07 PM:

Paleo Garden: "the resulting levels of low growth hormone (from these high levels of insulin) will in turn down regulate testosterone." GH has nothing to do with T regulation. Estrogen/Estridiol levels control T levels via feedback on the hypothalamus. Adipose tissue has high levels of aromitase which converts T into estrogen. There is more involved, but not related to GH.

guess'd said at May 5, 2010 12:25 PM:

Ian Anderson knew:

"...love you in the morning and all the night time too... whoo!"

billcat said at May 5, 2010 12:53 PM:

The estrogen in the male body is produced from testosterone by the action of an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase is found in many tissues, the brain and prostate for instance. But it is also produced in fat. Hence, more fat gives more aromatase and more conversion of testosterone to estrogen.
This excess estrogen makes the brain adjust the testosterone production down, which tends to reduce energy and metabolism increasing the chance of gaining weight, increasing estrogen production etc. Self-sustaing spiral in other words. So as for the chicken or eggs question on what causes what, it's both.

Breaking this spiral with testosterone replacement only will often turn out to be ineffective. There's an initial boost of energy and well-being, but after a short while the estrogen levels catch up and one is likely back to the same situation.

The important thing to get under control is the estrogen conversion. This is easily achieved by a group of pharmaceuticals called aromatase inhibitors (AI) such as Arimidex(anastrazole) or Aromasin(exemestane).
I've read stories on boards where men have gotten new lives on taking arimidex alone.

ras said at May 5, 2010 2:26 PM:

What, specifically, does "lower than normal" mean in this study? 5% below the median? 50%? The article doesn't say. How minor or major is the gap?

Syme said at May 5, 2010 7:43 PM:

I've often though that with fatter men the testicles are surrounded by more body mass. I mean there is a reason that they are located where they are, to keep the sperm cool. I'm thinking the environment is to warm for them.

Paleo Garden said at May 7, 2010 5:29 PM:

@Kyle Eubank: "There is more involved, but not related to GH."

You are right, there is more involved, and there is a synergistic relationship between GH and testosterone. This is but the tip of the iceberg in the research.
http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/full/91/2/477

I stand by my comments that the best way to increase/maintain testosterone to healthy levels is not to take testosterone supplementation, but rather to maintain low (normal in the evolutionary perspective) levels of insulin. If you are suggesting otherwise, then we are on a different page. If not, then perhaps, we're making the same point but from different angles. Cheers.

Paleo Garden said at May 10, 2010 5:21 AM:

@billcat
"The estrogen in the male body is produced from testosterone by the action of an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase is found in many tissues, the brain and prostate for instance. But it is also produced in fat. Hence, more fat gives more aromatase and more conversion of testosterone to estrogen."

Yes, thank you for the much more learned explanation. I admit that I used the wrong terminology when I suggested that low levels of GH down regulates testosterone. However, with high levels of insulin there will be fat accumulation and low levels of GH. Hence, this fat accumulation "gives more aromatase and more conversion of testosterone to estrogen" in the presence of a hormonal environment of chronic high levels of insulin and GH. But, in any case, as you note, it is the fat not the low levels of resulting GH from the high levels of insulin that cause the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.

My main point, in any case, and it sounds like what you wrote would still support it,is that the best way to increase testosterone would be to lower one's insulin levels via dietary carbohydrate restriction (or normal levels in the evolutionary context). Less insulin, less fat accumulation, less fat accumulation, less conversion of testosterone to estrogen, and from the many studies there will be a higher level of GH which is found to be synergistic with testosterone. If I've detracted from this main point in wrongly suggesting the down-regulation of testosterone by GH, then that's too bad, and I welcome any comments and/or corrections to this main point of lowering insulin (via an evolutionary diet) to increase testosterone production. Thank you both to Kyle and bilcat in that regard.

billcat said at May 16, 2010 3:53 PM:

@Paleo

What I wrote about estrogen was not meant to be read as in opposition to the actions and interactions of insulin and GH. It's just another important mechanism, and all these hormones interact every which way, as you stated. Insulin is a major fat-storage increase hormone. A lot of body fat and a high carb diet screws up your testosterone production through many mechanisms.

jane ridsdel cox said at September 26, 2012 4:53 PM:

I had hypothesised this as I watch and compte with runners. Someone got mad at me for saying that I am competitive in front of some obese women who were beginning runners. I did not think it mattered as in my experience obese men and women do not seem competitive, in other words he did not have to worry about these women over doing it to compete. I can see the relationship between testosterone in men but what about women? Do we lose the little most of us women have as we get fatter? I am thin and very competitive. I don't think I was when I was a fat teenager???

jane ridsdel cox said at September 26, 2012 4:57 PM:

I have noticed that behavior in men is less competitive and aggressive as they get fatter? Due to decreasing testosterone?? What about women? I am a runner so observe runners and beginning runners. I am very competeive as a thin person but wasn't as a fat teenager!

Post a comment
Comments:
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
URL:
Remember info?

                       
Go Read More Posts On FuturePundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright ©