Testosterone, Steak and Eggs
Testosterone is one misunderstood molecule. It has such great influence over the human body that it has gained a reputation, a mystique. Society associates testosterone with Arnold Schwarzenegger (circa 1980s), with strength, virility, aggression, violence, square jaws and six-pack abs. We also tend to blame it for certain male tendencies and traits in our society, as well as certain medical disorders, although there is little scientific basis for this reasoning.
Testosterone is the major sex steroid hormone in men, and its effects are wide-ranging and powerful. It will make a boy into a man, for one thing. It sparks the development of facial and pubic hair, Adam’s apples, deeper voices, bigger muscles, broader chests. In the adult male, testosterone is necessary for sexual desire, erection maintenance, and sperm production. It also affects other body functions not directly related to sex–important ones–such as maintaining a normal blood count, bone strength, muscle mass and mood.
Testosterone might explain the perpetual sexual desire of a sixteen year-old whose previously unannointed body is now seeing it for the first time, but it does not explain away acts of violence. One popular belief is that excessive testosterone can make one uncontrollably aggressive. However, men actually tend to feel moodier and more anxious with lower testosterone levels, and there are reports that testosterone treatment can disperse these negative feelings. Also, studies show that there is a higher correlation between acts of violence and a past history of violence, than between violence and testosterone levels.
It is also untrue that high testosterone levels cause male pattern baldness and prostate cancer. Baldness is not a sign of virility, and is not associated with high testosterone levels. It is associated with genetics, specifically from the mother’s side of the family (male pattern, crown centered baldness) or the father’s side (overall baldness). Prostate cancer, meanwhile, appears to be associated with low levels of testosterone, and not high ones. So, basically, despite being the cause of hairiness, sweatiness, smelliness, and horniness, testosterone is very good for men.
Does it deserve the bad rap it gets? Taken appropriately, as replacement for naturally low levels, testosterone is not dangerous, nor is it illegal. If taken as a supplement, things are different. Anabolic steroids are synthetically produced variants of natural testosterone. Some common street or slang names for anabolic steroids include arnolds, gym candy, pumpers, roids, stackers, weight trainers, and juice. There are about 100 different types of anabolic steroids circulating nowadays and you will get over 1 million hits on Google by entering “buy steroids,” if you’re interested. When anabolics are taken as a supplement to boost normal testosterone levels, they can lead to some interesting side effects: shooting blanks instead of having a normal sperm count, getting tender breasts when you really don’t want them, and acne like when you were fourteen. Here’s where the bad rap enters the picture. And with steroid abuse, all bets are off regarding the healthy benefits that normal testosterone balance has on cholesterol balance, liver and heart health, blood pressure and mood. So be just like the power hitter Jim Thome, who said: “The strongest thing I put into my body is steak and eggs.”