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BPA has long been blamed by environmental activists for supposedly mimicking the hormone estrogen (although scientists say its estrogenic effects are akin to eating tofu). Now researchers are trying to argue the chemical raises testosterone. A study of 715 Italian men and women aged 20 to 74 published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that men with the highest levels of BPA in their urine also had an increase in their blood testosterone concentrations — although all the hormone levels still remained within normal range.

WebMd Health News quoted ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan on the the study results:

It is no surprise that BPA was measurable in urine, but as to BPA being causally related to an increase in testosterone, the authors note that their evidence does not prove causation. There is no reason to believe that trace environmental exposures to BPA would affect testosterone levels any more than eating a meal consisting of natural soy, which is a potential natural endocrine modulator. More

Printed from: American Council on Science and Health

Though scientists predicted that women would eventually close the gender gap in sports performance with better training and coaching.  The biological factor – testosterone makes this unlikely.

BEIJING — No matter what happens in the men’s marathon here Sunday, one thing is all but certain. The winner will run the 26.2-mile course faster than the winner of the women’s marathon last Sunday.

The woman who won, Constantina Tomescu of Romania, was fast, of course, finishing the race in 2 hours 26 minutes 44 seconds — more than a minute ahead of the second-place finisher. But for a variety of intrinsic biological reasons, the best women can never run as fast as the best men, exercise researchers say. More

The New York Times
By Gina Kolata
Published: August 21, 2008

BPA’s – You know them… they’re in the water bottle you may be using right now or the CD you just popped in to listen to your favorite country or rock tunes. Most certainly they’re in your eyeglasses you’re wearing to read this. Unfortunately if you are a man – they are also being absorbed into your skin & excreted in your urine and they are messing with your hormones while they pass through. Especially the one’s that make you a man, testosterone, and it isn’t going away any time soon.

BPA’s in almost everything, it seems. The chemical is great for making transparent, nearly shatter-proof plastic, called polycarbonate, so it shows up everywhere–in CDs, water bottles, even eyeglasses.

Now it’s in your urine, too. And if you’re a guy, it’s messing with your hormones.

Researchers at the School of Biosciences at the University of Exeter in the UK have found an association between BPA (Bisphenol A) and higher levels of testosterone, proving a link that up until now has only been decisively shown in lab animals. More

National Geographic’s Green Guide
Tips for Everyday Green Living
–Rachel Kaufman
Research recently published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism showed that testosterone levels in older men depended on race and geography. Twice as many white Americans were in the lower ranges than Hong Kong and Japan.
NEW YORK — New research shows older men’s sex hormone levels depend on both race and geographical location, casting further doubt on the criteria for “male menopause.”
More than a million testosterone prescriptions are being written in the U.S. every year, experts say, and many go to middle-aged and older men with stunted libido and depressed mood presumably caused by low levels of the male sex hormone.
But there is no consensus about what these symptoms — sometimes called “male menopause” or “low T” — mean, or when testosterone levels are too low in the first place. More:
By Frederik Joelving, Reuters
For The Vancouver Sun

The University of Manchester & colleagues from two London Colleges and other European partners have studied and determined that three sexual symptoms are associated with Low Testosterone: decreased frequency of morning erection, decreased frequency of sexual thoughts (sex drive), and erectile dysfunction.

Scientists have for the first time identified the symptoms associated with what has been termed late-onset hypogonadism or ‘male menopause’ caused by a reduction in testosterone production in ageing men.

But the researchers say that, unlike the female menopause which affects all women, the male menopause  is relatively rare, affecting only 2% of elderly men, and is often linked to poor general health and obesity.

The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, should provide new guidance to physicians prescribing male testosterone therapy, a practice that has increased by 400% in the United States, though not elsewhere, since 1999. more

Reprinted from the University of Manchester School of Medicine
Press release, 17 June 2010

According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine – Male menopause is not a myth. It only affects 2 percent of men, whereas female menopause affects 100% of women. Symptoms for both men and women include: hot flashes, low libido, and fatigue. Symptoms that correspond to diagnosis include: low testosterone levels with three sexual symptoms: decreased frequency of morning erection, decreased frequency of sexual thoughts (sex drive), and erectile dysfunction.

The bad news for Baby Boomer men is that male menopause is not a myth. It exists and has a name – late-onset hypogonadism. And it’s accompanied by some of those same symptoms that plague women during their menopause years: hot flashes, low libido, and fatigue.

But the good news is that it does not affect large numbers of men of Baby Boomer age and older. More

Printed from:
Male Menopause, or “Manopause” – Myth or Fact?
Monday, August 23 2010
By Paul Briand

While the golden years can bring wisdom and satisfaction for a life well lived, they can also result in the transformation of a healthy and vigorous male into a frail senior citizen. But can this decline be slowed, or even reversed, by the use of a male hormone that increases strength and endurance? Moreover, can we trick the body into thinking it is younger than it actually is without paying a human price? This edition of Health-Watch takes a manly look at these questions.

What is testosterone and what does it do?

Testosterone, also known as the macho hormone, is an anabolic steroid. “Anabolic” means to build up; testosterone builds tissue -especially muscle tissue -by increasing protein formation within cells.

Testosterone is produced by the testicles and affects many parts of the body and brain. It is responsible for the development and functioning of the male sex organs, masculine characteristics like facial hair, and a host of additional bodily functions. These include sex drive, the health of the prostate, and aggression and assertiveness. It modulates sperm production, as well as mood, energy level, and muscle bulk and strength.

In addition, testosterone builds bone, and is therefore important for the prevention of osteoporosis. Men who suffer hip fractures, for instance, may have low testosterone.

Normal levels of testosterone are based on age. A level below 300 nanograms per decilitre of blood can be considered subnormal in young adults.

Tell me about testosterone decline.

Testosterone levels change over the course of a man’s lifetime. Hormone production typically begins to decline after age 40 as a normal part of what has been described as andropause, the male equivalent of menopause. While most men experience a drop in testosterone levels, some may experience symptoms bothersome enough to report to a physician. A small percentage of men will suffer a steep decline in hormone levels relative to their age group, which, if occurring in conjunction with bothersome symptoms, leads to a little-known condition known as late-onset hypogonadism.

What are the effects of low testosterone?

Now that you know what testosterone does, it won’t surprise you that deficiency can affect men in different ways, some of which resemble how menopause can affect women. For instance, it can have serious implications in terms of reduced libido; loss of muscle that, in turn, can lead to reduced mobility; erectile dysfunction; and mood and sleep disturbances. All of these can greatly reduce one’s quality of life.

Late-onset hypogonadism is not an easy diagnosis to establish, as some men will show low testosterone levels without symptoms, and some men with symptoms may have low-ish but still normal-range blood levels of testosterone.

The study: Basaria S, Coviello AD, Travison TG et al. Adverse events associated with testosterone administration. N Engl J Med 2010;363: 109-22.

Tell me about this study.

Researchers based out of Boston University looked at whether or not testosterone could safely reverse the ravages of time in men over 65 years of age. Since studies

have already suggested that testosterone can increase strength, endurance and muscle mass in senior citizens who are in good health, these scientists wanted to know how it might work in men who were already less mobile and weakened as a result of old age.

This study recruited men who had low levels of blood testosterone and demonstrated difficulty walking more than two blocks or climbing stairs. Half of the patients were randomly assigned to receive a testosterone skin gel, applied daily at a dose that brought their blood testosterone level toward the normal range. The control patients received a placebo gel that was indistinguishable from the one containing the potent male hormone designed to be absorbed through the skin. The study then followed all the subjects for months and measured their ability to lift or push weights using both chest and arm muscles, as well as their legs.

So what happened?

Being particularly cautious about not allowing harm to come to study subjects, and well before the planned number of patients had been recruited, the safety board monitoring the progress of the study halted recruitment and study procedures once they noticed a slight increase in the number of heart attacks occurring in the testosterone gel group -events that were not occurring as often in the control group. By that point, there appeared to be a clear trend toward increased strength and endurance in the testosterone group, though not in a definitive way.

Should the study have been stopped early?

Good question. Safe and ethical research is of paramount importance in this day and age, and in that regard the decision to stop the study was correct. On the other hand, the suggestion of a slight increase in risk for subjects receiving the testosterone may have been simply the result of bad luck; and had a few more months elapsed, the cardiac risk might have evened out and the benefits of testosterone might have become more evident. Many of the men recruited into the study suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes, and by chance, there were more of these in the testosterone arm, potentially accounting for the increased risk seen in patients using the real McCoy.

What’s the bottom line?

If you and your physician are convinced that you suffer from late-onset hypogonadism and you are otherwise at low cardiovascular risk, testosterone gel may still be considered a reasonable treatment option, as long as you understand the risks associated with boosting your mojo.

The material provided in HealthWatch is designed for general educational purposes only and does not pertain to individual cases. It should not replace necessary medical consultations with your own doctor or medical professional.

Reprinted from The Gazette

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Original article from WebMD
Low Testosterone Explained: How Do You Know When Levels Are Too Low?.

By Matthew Hoffman, MD
WebMD Feature

Although it’s normal for testosterone levels to drop as men age, low testosterone can affect a man’s health. In many ways, testosterone is the stuff that makes men men. The rush of new testosterone in puberty builds muscle and bone, deepens the voice, and revs up the sex drive. Throughout a man’s life, testosterone maintains his male characteristics.

Testosterone levels decline steadily after age 40. The decline is relatively small, at an average rate of about 1% to 2% percent per year. By middle age and older, virtually all men experience some decline in testosterone — but only a small percentage of aging men have levels far below those considered normal for their age.

Is this low testosterone part of normal aging — or a medical problem that needs treatment?

“If a man doesn’t have symptoms, you shouldn’t even test [for low testosterone],” says Karen Herbst, MD, PhD, an endocrinologist with the University of California at San Diego. “There’s no proof that treating low testosterone in the absence of symptoms has any benefits. But in men with symptoms of [low testosterone], many of them will get a benefit from treatment.”

What is Low Testosterone?

Low testosterone is defined as less than 300 nanograms per deciliter of blood. The symptoms of low testosterone include low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, mood problems, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. Of all men with below-normal testosterone levels, about one-half to two-thirds report symptoms.

Unlike a woman’s menopause, when estrogen levels plummet over months to very low levels, men’s “andropause” is a gradual decline of testosterone levels over years. The effects of low testosterone can be insidious, even go unnoticed.

Some men with low testosterone levels have symptoms without recognizing them, Herbst says. “They may still have a sex drive, but not realize how much it’s declined,” she says.

Men with symptoms of low testosterone can have significant impairment in quality of life. Current medical thinking is “these men should be treated with testosterone replacement,” Herbst says.

Low testosterone can be replaced by using a daily skin gel, patches worn on the skin, orally disintegrating tablets, or injections. The general recommendations are to raise the blood testosterone level only into the normal range.

Health Effects of Low Testosterone

Surprisingly little is known about the long-term health effects of low testosterone. Low testosterone is associated with several chronic medical conditions, including obesity, diabetes, depression, and possibly cardiovascular disease. However, “It’s not clear at all that [low testosterone] causes these conditions,” Herbst says. “In fact, it might be the other way around.”

The same processes that lead to medical illness — causing diabetes and high blood pressure, for example — could potentially also be causes of low testosterone, says Andre Araujo, PhD, an epidemiologist and researcher on testosterone deficiency. “It’s possible that low testosterone levels serve as a marker of health decline in general,” he says.

Testosterone builds bone, and low testosterone can lead to thinning of the bones, called osteoporosis. Men with hip fractures tend to have low testosterone. As yet, there is no proof that testosterone therapy reduces fracture risk. Still, most physicians would treat a man with low bone density with testosterone, Herbst says.

Testosterone Replacement: Benefits and Risks

Prescriptions for testosterone replacement have risen more than 17 fold in recent years. Some experts applaud the increase, while others sound a note of caution. Testosterone replacement in available doses is felt to be generally safe, but “we just don’t know the long-term benefits or the risks yet,” Herbst says.

Some evidence suggests that many men with symptomatic low testosterone don’t get treated, Araujo says. He and his colleagues found relatively low treatment rates in Boston, in a recent study.

“Only about 12 percent of men with symptomatic androgen deficiency were being treated,” Araujo says. “Without access to the medical data, we can’t say they should have been. But we can say that it didn’t seem to be due to poor access to care or unwillingness on their part.”

Men have a wide variation in response to testosterone replacement. “I wish all guys behaved the same when you give them testosterone,” Herbst says. “They don’t.”

In her specialty clinic, “about 10% of men don’t get much of a response. About 90% see some sort of improvement, and about one in 10 of them are ecstatic,” Herbst says. In clinical studies, the majority of men with low testosterone have improved erectile dysfunction and sex drive with testosterone replacement. The degree of response varies widely, though, and the long-term response isn’t known.

According to the Endocrine Society’s clinical guidelines, certain men shouldn’t take testosterone supplements. Men with metastatic prostate cancer or breast cancer absolutely shouldn’t, because testosterone can stimulate these cancers to grow. Other conditions can potentially be made worse by testosterone therapy, including sleep apnea, severe benign prostatic hypertrophy, severe congestive heart failure, or high red blood cell counts (erythrocytosis).

Testosterone Replacement: Benefits and Risks continued…

Clinical trials to evaluate the benefits of testosterone replacement are underway. Until then, men with low testosterone symptoms whose blood tests show low testosterone levels will need to make their own decisions with their doctors.

That’s if those men can get themselves to speak up about symptoms of low testosterone, though. Herbst says most men in her clinic don’t ask about it. “It would be great if they would,” she says.

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