Sugar and Testosterone
Nancy Appleton PhD and G.N. Jacobs
Authors of Suicide by Sugar
© 2009 Nancy Appleton Books
Just say the words gonads, testosterone or any of the unprintable slang associated with testicles, sex and male virility and you’ll get a laugh or at least amused looks. Now, say those words again, but in a context that says, “you’re going to lose that capability, son” and watch what happens. The collective scream you hear is shrill enough to replace the air raid sirens America abandoned as stupid in the 1980s. Well, one way men lose that capability is to eat sugar.
New research so fresh that it hasn’t yet appeared in a journal article says flat out that eating sugar reduces testosterone levels in the blood by up to 25-percent across the board. The researchers found 74 men at Massachusetts General Hospital with a range of tolerances to glucose (42 normal blood sugar, 23 impaired glucose tolerance “prediabetic” and 9 actually with Type-2 Diabetes) and gave them 75g of a glucose solution. In many cases, the effect lasted at least 2 hours after ingestion and affected all types of men in the study. Of 66 men listed as having normal testosterone levels in a fasting state before the test 10 developed a hypogonadal (low testosterone) state at some point during the two hours of the test.[i]
The actual intent of the research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Association was to refine testing methods for low testosterone levels. Current methodology says to test the man in the morning on two different days and get an average reading to see if the man is truly hypogondal or if the low testosterone will pick up later. So far, no one has said that a man should fast before taking the blood test, until now.
The link between sugar, insulin, obesity, diabetes, the metabolic syndrome and testosterone levels had been touched on in other research that has come out recently. Only these researchers worked backwards relative to this new study, they took people with known elements of the metabolic syndrome (diabetes, obesity and heart disease) and tested their testosterone levels. Many subjects had low testosterone.
In recent research conducted in Berlin, the conclusion read in part “Lower total testosterone and sex-hormone-binding-globulin (SHBG) predict a higher incidence of the metabolic syndrome…Administration of testosterone to hypogondal men reverses the unfavorable risk profile for the development of diabetes and atherosclerosis.”[ii]
In Finland where similar research is regularly conducted the researchers came up with this gem “Low total testosterone and SHBG levels independently predict development of the metabolic syndrome and diabetes in middle-aged men. Thus, hypoandrogenism (hypogondal) is an early marker for disturbances in insulin and glucose metabolism that may progress to the metabolic syndrome or frank diabetes.”[iii]
It seems that these previous studies were waiting for someone else to have a The Emperor Seems Naked moment and try out the inverse of their results in which you give sugar to mostly healthy people and see what happens. No longer should low testosterone be considered just a symptom of the metabolic syndrome, but as what both are…a result of too much sugar in our diet.
We at Nancy Appleton Books have already touched on sugar causing the metabolic syndrome in previous articles like 140 Reasons Why Sugar Ruins Your Health (https://nancyappletonbooks.wordpress.com/2009/05/23/140-reasons-sugar-ruins-your-health/). In it we make simple declarative statements about many of sugar’s ill effects.
- Sugar can increase fasting levels of glucose.[iv]
- Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.[v]
- Sugar can lead to obesity.[vi]
- Sugar can cause heart disease.[vii]
- Sugar can cause metabolic syndrome.[viii]
One method how sugar lowers testosterone is its effect on the adrenal glands. Sugar taxes the adrenal glands and these glands interrelate with the sex hormone glands (testes and ovaries) that produce testosterone and estrogen.[ix]
These ailments listed above are elements of and highly associated with the metabolic syndrome, which we have linked to the excessive intake of sugar. The research in Massachusetts says that sugar causes low testosterone. Similar research around the world says that low testosterone is highly associated with the various elements of the metabolic syndrome. So how many times do we have to enjoy the circular logic before we simply say that sugar causes both the low testosterone and the ailments in the metabolic syndrome? Put more simply, sugar kills in a multitude of ways and this one affects men where they really live, in the bedroom.
[i] http://www.endo-society.org/media/press/upload/CARONIA_FINAL.pdf dated June 13, 2009
[ii] Saad F and Gooren L. “The Role of Testosterone in the Metabolic Syndrome: a Review” J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol Mar 2009:114(1-2):40-3
[iii] Laaksonen D.E. et al. “Testosterone and Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin Predict the Metabolic Syndrome in Middle-Aged Men” Diabetes Care May 2004;27(5):1036-41
[iv] . Kelsay, L et al. “Diets High in Glucose or Sucrose and Young Women.” Am J Clin Nutr. 1974; 27: 926-936.
Thomas, B. L et al. “Relation of Habitual Diet to Fasting Plasma Insulin Concentration and the Insulin Response to Oral Glucose.” Hum Nutr Clin Nutr. 1983; 36C(1): 49-51.
[v] Dufty, William. Sugar Blues. (New York: Warner Books, 1975).
[vi] Keen, H., et al. “Nutrient Intake, Adiposity and Diabetes.” Brit Med J. 1989; 1: 655-658.
[vii] Yudkin, J. “Sugar Consumption and Myocardial Infarction.” Lancet. Feb 6, 1971; 1(7693): 296-297.
Chess, D.J., et al. “Deleterious Effects of Sugar and Protective Effects of Starch on Cardiac Remodeling, Contractile Dysfunction, and Mortality in Response to Pressure Overload.” Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. Sep 2007; 293(3): H1853-H1860.
[viii] Yoo, Sunmi, et al. “Comparison of Dietary Intakes Associated with Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factors in Young Adults: the Bogalusa Heart Study.” Am J Clin Nutr. Oct 2004; 80(4): 841-848.
[ix] Lechin, F., et al. “Effects of an Oral Glucose Load on Plasma Neurotransmitters in Humans.” Neurophychobiology. 1992;26(1-2):4-11.