If you're a mom of boys, you may already feel like you're presiding over a junior frat house. But as it turns out, the very environment in which you live may play a big time role in their testosterone levels.
New research out of the UK's Durham University studied five comparison groups of dudes based on where the grew up -- in this case it was either in London or Bangladesh. Additionally they noted whether or not they also had ancestors from either place. The groups consisted of the following: one including affluent men born in Bangladesh who continue to reside there, Bangladesh men who moved to London early in childhood, men born in Bangladesh who chose to move to London in adulthood, men born in the UK but whose parents are from Bangladesh, and men born in the UK with European ancestry.
The study, recently published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, found that, surprisingly, it's the environment in which one is raised that factored the most in terms of men's testosterone levels, not to mention their height and the age at which they hit puberty. So, ya see, not everything is necessarily about genetics.
How did things shake out between the groups in terms of testosterone levels?
Turns out, guys born in either place, but raised in the UK, share similarities in their testosterone levels on average, plus height and age when puberty hit. Men who were born in Bangladesh and stayed there, even those who moved to London as grownups, typically entered puberty later, were shorter, and had lower levels of testosterone.
So what does this mean for your kiddo? More research is needed before scientists can really pinpoint the inner workings of why environment plays such a part on these characteristics. As Dr. Landon Trost, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist not involved in the study, told Live Science, they've already see ways in which childhood disease plays into testosterone levels and infertility. Adding this environmental piece to the puzzle may help them see the bigger picture in the not-so-distant future.
We would be interested to see similar studies done across the United States to see how the findings differ from region to region. For now we'll just have to take a look around and make the best environmental choices we can for both our kids and ourselves.
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