Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Too much or Too Little, Testosterone's a Killer

"Too much testosterone can kill brain cells," according to a Yale study (reported by Reuters), and a University of Washington study (reported by Forbes) shows that men with low levels of the hormone lead to an 88 percent "increased risk of death."

Yale scientist Barbara Ehrlich explained testosterone is a tricky chemical. "Too little testosterone is bad, too much is bad but the right amount is perfect," Ehrlich told Reuters.

So how can I tell if I have too much or too little testosterone, and what do I do to control it? Neither article would say. But here's what the hormone does. "Testosterone is key to the development, differentiation and growth of cells," read the Reuters piece. Both men and women's bodies create the stuff, but men have about 20 times as much of the substance.

Elevated levels of testosterone causes cells to commit suicide in a process called apoptosis, reported Reuters. This is similar to what happens in Alzheimer's. But when it comes to the reasons why low levels of testosterone are related to an increased risk of death, it gets murky.

Simply put, researchers at the University of Washington aren't sure exactly why low levels of the substance leads to an increased risk of death. However, they say that, "low testosterone levels can result in decreased muscle mass and bone density, insulin resistance and low sex drive, as well as less energy, more irritability and feelings of depression."

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.