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Sex Hormones vs Body Composition: Chicken or Egg?

Posted May 21 2013 3:00am
It's taking me a while to get caught up on my journal reading (which has been described as drinking from a fire hydrant).  In the process, I stumbled, not unlike a blind squirrel finding a nut, a cross-sectional, longitudinal study published early online last month in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in which the authors concluded that body composition affects hormone levels but not vice versa.  Apparently the authors followed 821 men for close to 5yrs after initial measurements of hormone status and body composition via dual energy xray absorptiometry were performed.  Because no change in body composition was noted over this period of time, they concluded that body composition affects hormone levels but not the other way around.  In other words, they claim that the chicken laid the egg.

Granted, I'm not any where near their level of expertise but I beg to differ.  While baseline body composition may affect hormone levels, there's also plenty of evidence that hormone levels will affect body composition.  For instance, those men who receive androgen deprivation therapy have a tendency to gain weight, especially central adiposity, while losing muscle mass.  Furthermore, a randomized controlled study published 3yrs ago in the same journal showed that supplementing low to borderline low testosterone levels in frail elderly men lead to an increase in lean body mass & decrease in fat mass.  In other words, this study suggests that the egg hatched the chicken.

Bottom line, life's complicated and our bodies even more so.  It would appear that we can accept ourselves for what we are (body composition affects hormone levels) or we can do something about ourselves if we're not satisfied (hormone levels affect body composition).  What you choose to do is obviously up to you.  Just remember that this isn't a do it yourself project, if you elect to boost your testosterone level.

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