There are many misconceptions surrounding testosterone, a vital hormone for males, but which is also important in females. This month, many studies have come to light that have helped clarify misconceptions about the substance. These studies should promote a greater understanding of testosterone’s uses and misuses.
A study that will be published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal found that encountering the plastics chemical bisphenol A (BPA) has the potential to heighten men’s testosterone levels. BPA can be found in many products, such as food and drink containers, and has had its used curtailed in many countries, at least in the manufacture of feeding items for children. The study tested 715 Italian adult men between the ages of 20-74 and found that they had a higher exposure to BPA than adults in the same group in the U.S. had. This greater exposure correlated with an increase in testosterone in the Italian men.
While this may seem to be cause for alarm, other scientists question what an average level of testosterone is at all. Researchers have published data in the journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism that suggests that, in older men, testosterone levels vary wildly dependent on race and location. The study was addressing the topic of what constituted a testosterone rate that was too low in older men going through hypogonadism, which is related to “male menopause.” The study found that average testosterone levels could vary by as much as 18% and suggested this might have something to do with factors like chemicals, social status, or diet.
Whatever testosterone rates may be in men or how much they matter, others have recently found that they don’t have much impact on women, at least on women with menopause. The Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden found that, in women whose menopause was brought on by the removal of their uterus and ovaries, neither testosterone nor estrogen helped improve their memory. Past studies had suggested that estrogen had the potential to improve the memory of menopausal women, but that testosterone had the potential to cancel out this gain, though still improving their sex drive, which is why testosterone is sometimes prescribed for older women. However, the study found that, in 200 women between the age of 50-65 who were divided into three groups that were given estrogen, testosterone, and a placebo respectively, that there was no appreciable difference in their performances.