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High testosterone: a punishment for women, an advantage for men

Testosterone It has always been a concept closely linked to masculinity and now a study confirms that it is beneficial for men and a punishment for women.

Have genetically higher levels of testosterone increases the risk of metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes in women, while reducing the risk in men. Higher testosterone levels They also increase the risks of breast and endometrial cancer in women, and, yes, prostate cancer in men.

The findings come of the largest study to date on the genetic regulation of sex hormone levelspublished in the journal ‘Nature Medicine’ and led by researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge and the University of Exeter, reports Infosalus.

Despite finding a strong genetic component in circulating testosterone levels in men and women, The authors found that the genetic factors involved were very different between the sexes.

More than 425,000 participants

The team used genome wide association studies (GWAS) in 425,097 UK Biobank participants to identify 2,571 genetic variations associated with differences in sex hormone levels testosterone and its binding protein sex hormone binding globulin (SHGB).

The researchers verified their genetic analyzes in additional studies, including the EPIC-Norfolk and Twins UK study, and found a high level of agreement with their results in UK Biobank.

The team then used an approach called Mendelian randomizationwhich uses natural genetic differences to understand whether known associations between testosterone levels and disease are causal rather than correlative.

They found that in women, genetically higher testosterone increases the risks of type 2 diabetes by 37%, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) by 51%.

However, they also found that having higher levels of testosterone reduces the risk of T2D in men by 14%. Furthermore, they found that genetically higher levels of testosterone increased the risk of breast and endometrial cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.

The doctor John Perry of the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, and lead author of the paper, highlights that “these findings that genetically higher levels of testosterone increase the risk of PCOS in women are important for cUnderstand the role of testosterone in the origin of this common disorderrather than simply being a consequence of this condition.”

“In the same way, In men, testosterone-lowering therapies are widely used to treat prostate cancer., but until now it was uncertain whether lower levels of testosterone also protect against the development of prostate cancer. “Our findings show how genetic techniques such as Mendelian randomization are useful for understanding the risks and benefits of hormone therapies,” she adds.

Men and women separately

For her part, the doctor Katherine Ruthfrom the University of Exeter and one of the lead authors of the research, adds that these findings “provide unique information about the effects of testosterone in the disease.”

“In particular, they emphasize the importance of considering men and women separately in studies, as we saw opposite effects for testosterone in diabetes. Caution is needed in using our results to justify the use of testosterone supplements, until we can do similar studies of testosterone with other diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases,” he insists.

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