Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Unhealthy Testosterone Boosters: Mobile Phone Radiation and Cat Litter Disease

If you are still looking for ways to "naturally" boost your testosterone levels, here are two ways of doing so, you better avoid.

Excessive Cell Phone Use to Boost Testosterone

The first one has been discovered by Gutschi et al. only recently (Gutschi. 2011). When they investigated the effects of cell phone radiation on men's semen parameters, the scientists were in fact able to confirm their hypothesis that exposure to cell phone radiation leads to decreased sperm quality (cf. fig. 1, left). An interesting side-finding, however was the unexpected correlation of cell phone use and testosterone levels (cf. fig. 1, right) observed in the study.

Figure 1: Sperm health (left) and hormone levels (right) in cell phone users and non-users
(data adapted from Gutschi. 2011)
So, you love your cell phone and don't want to have kids, anyway? Fine, keep using it, but do not expect to improve your athletic performance, gain muscle or lose fat. Just as with almost all natural testosterone boosters out there the "increase", or in this case the observed levels of testosterone in cell phone users, may be "statistically significant" the difference between a testosterone level of 5.1ng/dl and 4.8ng/dl is however biologically irrelevant. You won't feel it and a single night with too little sleep is sure going to annihilate the difference, anyway. So think twice, whether or not you leave your cell phone by your bed to increase your EMR exposure and thus squeeze a little more testosterone out of your leyding cells.

Infecting Yourself With a Parasite to Boost Testosterone

Similar considerations would be indicated before you eat your cats poopoo to infect yourself with coccidian parasite Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan parasite whose worldwide prevalence varies between 20 and 70%.
Figure 2: Lifecycle of Toxoplasma gondii (illustration by LadyofHats)
The reason I address this issue is the recent (re-)appearance of a study by Flegr et al. (Flegr. 2007A) that found a sex-specific effect of Toxoplasma-infection on testosterone levels:
the effect of the toxoplasmosis-sex interaction on the testosterone concentration was highly significant (F1,260=13·434, P<0·001, η2=0·049). Infected men had higher and infected women had lower testosterone levels than Toxoplasma-free men and women, respectively.
Other than many Internet sources would have it, this difference was yet only significant for women. For men it was so marginal that it did not even reach statistical significance.
A recent study called the dopamine increase into question: Previously scientists thought the increase in testosterone may be a result of an increase in dopamine. A recent study does now indicate that this may not be the case (Wang. 2014). This doesn't change the previous observation, though, discussed in this article.
Apart from being disgusting, it would thus also be plainly stupid to consume some yummy cat excrements - irrespective of your sex, your physical performance, bodycomposition or manliness won't improve. On the other hand, you risk developing "behavioural and neurophysiological changes" related to changes in testosterone, dopamine and other endocrine and neurological parameters, which go hand in hand with a Toxoplasmosis gondii infection (Flegr. 2007B).
  • Flegr, Jaroslav. "Effects of Toxoplasma on human behavior." Schizophrenia bulletin 33.3 (2007): 757-760.
  • Gutschi, T., et al. "Impact of cell phone use on men’s semen parameters." Andrologia 43.5 (2011): 312-316.
  • Wang, Zi T., et al. "Reassessment of the role of aromatic amino acid hydroxylases and the effect of infection by Toxoplasma gondii on host dopamine levels." Infection and Immunity (2014): IAI-02465.