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What Lowers Testosterone Levels?: Lifestyle Choices

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Our testosterone levels peak at around 20 years old, and then begin to decrease with age by around 1% per year from the age of 30. With good exercise and nutrition we can maintain high levels of this hormone – but with poor lifestyle choices comes rapid decreases, and this drop in T brings with it a range of health-related problems.

So when it comes to these lifestyle choices, what lowers Testosterone?

In this article we look at some common lifestyle choices that will decrease T levels, and bring you the science on why it happens.


1. Alcohol

Otherwise referred to as ethanol, alcohol is a testicular toxin and it causes fertility abnormalities with low sperm count and impaired sperm motility in men [1].  

Those who drink excessive amounts of alcohol are much more likely to have a low sperm count, impaired testosterone production and smaller testicles.

One of the reasons why we feel so relaxed after a few drinks is the release of beta-opioid endorphins- morphine like opioids that when produced in the testes can inhibit T production [2].


But are all alcoholic drinks as bad as each other?

Certainly not. The worst culprit is beer!

Not only does beer provide an opioid effect, it is also high in phytoestrogens – plant compounds that mimic estrogen.

A study from the American Association for Cancer Research in 2009 [3] found that one such phytoestrogen, xanthohumol, may prevent prostate cancer, but did so by completely blocking the effects of testosterone. Another compound found in beer- 8-Prenylnaringenin, is such a potent estrogenic that it has been studied for its potential role in the management of post-menopausal symptoms [4].

So what does the research say about alcohol and T-Levels?

#Study 1: Mendelson et al [5]

This study found that after an acute bout of ‘alcohol intoxication’ (participants got drunk!) plasma testosterone levels began to fall during the ascending phase of the blood alcohol curve, and remained depressed as intoxication decreased- there was a definite inverse relationship between the two.

#Study 2: Välimäki et al [6]

Likewise, a study in the journal, Alcohol, reported that when 8 healthy male volunteers were given one large dose of athanol (1.75g per kg body weight), T significantly decreased up to 12 hours post-event, and continued to be lower than their standard baseline by up to 24 hours after the ‘session’.

Interestingly there was also a noted increase in cortisol production which my help to explain the blunted T levels. 


What lowers testosterone

Key Point: A little bit of alcohol here and there won’t hurt but regular drinking to excess is really what lowers testosterone.


Now bear with us on this one, as we’re not saying you need to give up alcohol altogether just yet…

A study by the National Public Health Institute, Finland [2] found that whilst “heavy acute alcohol drinking decreases blood T-levels in men due to an effect on the testicular level”a low dose (0.5 g/kg, 10% w/v) actually increased T levels by 18.5%.

Much of the research to date has been completed on ‘excessive’ drinkers so this one is for you if you like to hit the bar on more than a regular basis. But for the good news…

A study by Vingren et al [7] found that by ingesting just over 1g per kg of body weight of ethanol increased testosterone concentration and bio-availability during recovery from resistance exercise.


2. Medication

Modern medicine has achieved astounding things and benefited many people in many different way – however some medications have been associated with T-decreasing effects. 

Opioids

Example opioids include painkillers such as morphine, methadone, hydrocodone and oxycodone. There are a number of brands available that all act on the nervous system to alleviate pain symptoms in either short-acting or long-acting form, based on delivery time of their effects.

A study in the Clinical Journal of Pain in 2013 [8] tried to find any links between testosterone suppression among men on daily opioid therapy for chronic pain.

The study reported that 34% of men (aged 26 to 79) who received short-acting opioids had low testosterone levels- and staggeringly the figure for those receiving long-acting opioids was 74%! 

This meant that those men on long-acting opioids had 4.78 times greater odds of becoming hypogonadal than did men on short-acting opioids.

Additionally, a meta-analysisthis is a type of study that collects all relevant research papers and does a big analysis, found that over 17 studies (2769 participants) findings demonstrated that T levels are suppressed by nearly 50% in men with regular opioid use regardless of opioid type [9].


Statins

This type of medication is prescribed to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDLs) levels in the blood- they work by blocking the mechanisms needed to form cholesterol- common statins include simvastatin and atorvastatin.

As testosterone is formed in cholesterol it has been proposed that statins may inhibit production of the substrate for the local synthesis of androgens such as testosterone [10].

In a large study called a systematic review (similar to a meta-analysis) by Schooling et al in 2013 [10] reported that in samples spanning 501 men using statins, T levels were reduced.

Likewise, a study by et al [11] found that in a large study of  men, those on statin therapy had a twofold increased prevalence of hypogonadism.

The data demonstrated that statin therapy might induce an overt primary hypogonadism and should be considered as a possible confounding factor for the evaluation of T levels.


Medication-Lowers-Testosterone

Key Point: Opioids and statins have both been found to significantly reduce testosterone levels.


3. Too Much Body Fat Lowers Testosterone

This is something you be focusing on anyway for overall health and aesthetics- and higher levels of body fat are also related to lower levels of testosterone. 

Body fat tissue is a moderator of both T and estrogen, with excess body fat allowing an enzyme called aromatase to irreversibly convert testosterone into estradiol– a type of estrogen. This results in decreased the male hormone and elevated estrogen levels [12].

For example:

#Study 1: Zumoff et al [13]

A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that in a total of 48 men, higher body mass and body fat was correlated with lower T levels.

#Study 2: Gapstur et al [14]

Likewise, a study in the International Journal of Obesity found that over an 8-year period, those males whose body mass increased showed a graded decrease in total testosterone, whilst those whose body mass decreased or stayed the same there was no change in T levels.

It is important to ensure that body fat levels are monitored in order to maintain T levels. For more information on these read our guide on HIIT training.


Obesity-Lowers-Testosterone

Key Point: It is very much a two-way story- whilst high levels of body fat can cause decreased T levels, decreased T levels in turn can cause higher levels of body fat.


Summary – What lowers Testosterone?

There are numerous factors that contribute to lower testosterone levels. When it comes to your lifestyle, alcohol, prescribed medication, and generally being overweight are three of the hard hitters that can have the most impact on your T. Some problems like prescribed medication cannot be avoided, however, alcohol and being overweight are both factors you can work towards curbing.

It is important when you are aiming for your best physique that you spend time focusing on T boosting workouts, foods and supplements.

It is also important that you spend time monitoring your lifestyle – aiming to reduce any T blocking pastimes as much as possible to accelerate your goals.


TestoFuel is a premium grade testosterone booster made with natural ingredients such as oyster extract and magnesium – this is the best product you can choose.

This supplement has the ability to support:

  • Muscle Growth and Strength – the golden chalice of weight lifting
  • Improved Recovery – hit the gym time and time again
  • Enhanced Energy – you’ll be able to train longer and harder to maximize results

TestoFuel is ideal for improving your performance both in and out of the gym, and helping you attain that all-important muscular physique.


Learn more about TestoFuel


References

  1. Maneesh, M et al. Alcohol abuse-duration dependent decrease in plasma testosterone and antioxidants in males. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 2006; 50 (3) : 291–296
  2. Sarkola, T et al. Testosterone Increases in Men After a Low Dose of Alcohol. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2003; 27(4): 682-685
  3. American Association for Cancer Research. 2009. http://www.newswise.com/articles/hops-compound-may-prevent-prostate-cancer
  4.  Bowe, J et al. The hop phytoestrogen, 8-prenylnaringenin, reverses the ovariectomy-induced rise in skin temperature in an animal model of menopausal hot flushes. J Endocrinol. 2006;191(2): 399-405.
  5. Mendelson, JH et al. Effects of acute alcohol intake on pituitary-gonadal hormones in normal human males. J Pharmocology Exp Therapeutics. 1977; 202(3): 676-682
  6. Välimäki, MJ et al. Sex hormones and adrenocortical steroids in men acutely intoxicated with ethanol. Alcohol. 1984; 1(1): 89-93
  7. Vingren, JL et al. Postresistance exercise ethanol ingestion and acute testosterone bioavailability. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013; 45(9): 1825-32.
  8. Rubinstein, AL et al. Hypogonadism in Men With Chronic Pain Linked to the Use of Long-acting Rather Than Short-acting Opioids. Clinical J Pain. 2013; 29(10): 840-845
  9. Bawor, M et al. Testosterone suppression in opioid users: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Drug Alc Depend. 2015; 149: 1-9
  10. Schooling, MC et al. The effect of statins on testosterone in men and women, a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMC Medicine. 2013; 11: 57
  11. Corona, G et al. The effect of statin therapy on testosterone levels in subjects consulting for erectile dysfunction. J Sex Med. 2010; 7(4): 1547-56
  12. Cohen, PG. Obesity in men: the hypogonadal-estrogen receptor relationship and its effect on glucose homeostasis. Med Hypotheses. 2008; 70(2): 358-60
  13. Zumoff, B et al. Plasma free and non-sex-hormone-binding-globulin-bound testosterone are decreased in obese men in proportion to their degree of obesity. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1990; 7(1): 929-31
  14. Gapstur, SM et al. Changes in BMI modulate age-associated changes in sex hormone binding globulin and total testosterone, but not bioavailable testosterone in young adult men: the CARDIA Male Hormone Study. Int J Obes. 2007; 31(4): 685-91