January 30, 2022 | Press Release

Testosterone as Men Age

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In the second half of life, men with low testosterone levels are more likely to have pre-existing health conditions than men with average levels. Using data from around 5600 men in the UK, an international team of researchers analyzed interplays linked to testosterone levels and how their impact changes over the course of life.

How does aging affect testosterone levels in men? Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock, Germany, the University of Bath and other institutions investigated this question and published their findings in the journal The Aging Male.

“We formulated several hypotheses based on previous study results and tested which correlations sustain throughout the life-course,” says Julian Schmied, currently a guest researcher at the MPIDR.

The researchers were able to confirm all hypotheses but one with their analysis. To do so, they evaluated information from the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) data series. Between 2010 and 2012, data on biomarkers, such as testosterone, were collected on the basis of blood samples of the participating men between the ages of 16 and 90.

Obesity lowers testosterone levels

The researchers show that testosterone levels in men not only decrease over the course of a lifetime, but also throughout the day. However, this circadian rhythm is less pronounced with increasing age.

Men with a BMI over 30 have lower testosterone levels compared to men of normal weight with the same age. Smokers, on the other hand, have higher testosterone levels.

Using the UK as an example, the researchers show that in high-income countries, the average testosterone level decreases in men over 30. In addition, married men have lower testosterone levels than single men of the same age. However, the difference becomes smaller with age.

Testosterone does not increase the willingness to take risks

With their data analysis, the researchers also confirm that healthy men in the second half of life have a slightly higher testosterone level than men with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes mellitus or cardiovascular diseases.

In contrast, the researchers cannot confirm the hypothesis that higher testosterone levels in men also lead to higher risk-taking.

“In social science, testosterone is among the most researched hormones. However, there has been little knowledge about how the relationship between testosterone and other biological and socio-economic factors change over the course of a man's life. We have now changed that to an extent,” says Julian Schmied.

Original Publication

Kanabar, R., Mazur, A., Plum, A., Schmied, J.: Correlates of Testosterone Change as Men Age. The Aging Male (2022). DOI:10.1080/13685538.2021.2023493

Authors and Affiliations

Ricky Kanabar, University of Bath

Allan Mazur, Syracuse University

Alexander Plum, Auckland University of Technology

Julian Schmied, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock

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Head of the Department of Public Relations and Publications

Silvia Leek

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+49 381 2081-143

Science Communication Editor

Christine Ruhland

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+49 381 2081-157

MPIDR-Author of the Paper

Guest Researcher

Julian Schmied

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The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.