Testosterone is an essential male hormone that rises and falls depending on the situation you find yourself in.
It has already been shown that specific situations, such as holding a baby, becoming a father, stress and even marriage can lower T levels.
But what has never been researched before is why some groups of people have higher testosterone levels than others.
Race & Genes
The traditional approach is that race and genes dictate how high your testosterone levels will be.
However, new research completed by the University of Durham in the UK has thrown this hypothesis into doubt!
The Childhood Effect
A new study recently published in Nature Ecology and Evolution looks at the effect industrialization has on T levels.
In short men who have grown up and live in the richer, industrialized areas of the world appear to have higher levels of testosterone; regardless of their race or genes.
Part of this could be explained by the higher rates of disease and malnutrition in poorer countries.
The research focused on what triggers the release of T and whether this is controlled by adult response or pre-ingrained responses from when you were a child.
Understanding the Research
Data was taken from 359 men who can all be considered to be from the middle class of Bangladesh.
This was to avoid any issues regarding malnutrition.
Every one of these men needed to fall into one of these categories:
- To be born in Bangladesh and then migrate to the UK as a child.
- Born in Bangladesh and migrated as an adult.
- 2nd generation men; born in the UK but raised by Bangladesh born parents.
- UK born ethnic Europeans.
This ensured there were a good range of men from all walks of life to assess.
The data showed that men who grew up in the UK have a significantly higher level of testosterone than those that grew up in Bangladesh.
Interestingly the ones that grew up in the UK hit puberty earlier and grew taller than their counterparts who grew up in Bangladesh.
It is believed that the difference is related to the energy the body has available. In Bangladesh and poorer countries the body has to constantly fight against infection or poor nutrition.
This is not an issue in the UK or other developed countries where energy can be used to create more testosterone and boost growth.
Interestingly the data showed that establishing T levels is actually done during the teenage years and not during young childhood.
The research also confirms that while ethnicity does not appear to affect the results; genes do play a part. T levels are, to an extent, inherited.
The Benefit of These Findings
Knowing that environment affects T levels means that doctors can be more aware of whom needs screening.
For example, if a UK born child of a migrant parent is likely to have higher levels of T then they are also more likely to have enlarged prostates when they are older.
They should then be a higher priority for screening; although further research into this and whether children of migrants are more at risk of disease is necessary.
Testosterone Levels Falling?
Research shows that T-levels have been steadily declining in the US and other industrialized countries for several decades.
This has been partially blamed on higher levels of obesity and a reduction in smoking. However, this research adds a new element that will need to be investigated further.
It is possible that T levels are showing as declining simply because the migrant population is growing.
Equally it is possible that the children of the children of migrants may have lower levels of testosterone.
This points to environmental reasons, or a lack of ecological stress, as being the primary reason for lower testosterone levels in men.
More research is needed but it appears that living in an industrialized country does help your T-levels as a child and a young man.
Treatment for Low T
Using Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) should be viewed as a last resort due to the inherit health risks and long term side effects.
Doctors recommend that you get your lifestyle in order first with a better diet, exercise and adequate rest.
We recommend you get started here with 15 Proven Ways to Increase Your Testosterone Levels Naturally.
You can find more details on this specific study at Nature.com: Childhood ecology influences salivary testosterone, pubertal age and stature of Bangladeshi UK migrant men