|Testosterone booster in men and estrogen amplifier in women? As if there were not already enough good reasons to get your daily dose of the 'kingly' brew ;-)|
So what is it this time? What else can coffee do for you?
I guess something only few people others than SuppVersity readers will be aware of is the fact that caffeine and therefore coffee makes a nice testosterone booster (Beavon. 2008; study was discussed briefly as part of a longer post on June 20, 2012 an mentioned previous times in other posts) -- at least if you stick to moderate doses of ~300-400 mg before a workout. So, unless you are a newbie or missed the respective news, you should not be surprised that a recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health (Wedick. 2012), which had actually been designed mainly to investigate the effects of 5x 6-ounze cups caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee (both instant coffees; brand: Nestlé’s Taster’s Choice) on serum levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), found that the consumption of both 'real' and 'fake' (=decaffeinated) instant coffee did lead to increases in total and free testosterone and profound decreases in estradiol (bound and free).
|Figure 1: Levels of SHBG, testosterone, free testosterone, estradiol, free estrogen, the testosterone to estrogen ratio and DHEA in the male participants of the study expressed relative to a caffeine abstinent control group (Wedick. 2012)|
|Figure 2: Levels of SHBG, testosterone, free testosterone, estradiol, free estrogen, the testosterone to estrogen ratio and DHEA in the female participants of the study expressed relative to a caffeine abstinent control group (based on Wedick. 2012)|
The relative data tells only part of the story
|Figure 4: Absolute values of the testosterone to estrogen ratio after 4 and 8 weeks; baseline levels were 16.2, 15.8, 18.2 in the caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee and control group respectively. The data clearly shows: Coffee needs a PCT ;-)|
Now this certainly reduces the effect size, but it does not totally negate the effect. After all the 'real' coffee drinkers (w/ caffeine) did still increase their T/E ratio from 16.2 to 24.2 -- a certainly likewise noteworthy increase of +29% that is however still far away from the exorbitant +189% increase compared to the poor guys who did not just lose their coffee, but also their virility.
So what does this tell use?
How cares about SHBG anyways? You should! After all there is relatively conclusive evidence that normal (not exorbitantly high!) SHGB levels have a protective effect against breast cancer in women and mechanistic evidence that they increase the risk of prostate cancer in men. In both cases SHBG acts independently via the largely ignored SHBG receptor that modulates the action of estrogens. Co-activation of SHBG and estrogen receptor in the prostate induces similar effect on prostate specific antigen secretion as DHT (Nakhla. 1997). Since estrogen alone does not have this effect, it is no wonder that stinging nettle root (Urtica dioica), with its SHGB inhibiting effect is a viable tool in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (Hryb. 1995). In the female breast, on the other hand, SHBG seems to " trigger a 'biologic' anti-estrogenic pathway" (Fortunati. 1999) and does therefore exert anti-instead of pro-carcinogenic effects.I guess there are more than just the following three lessons to learn from this study, but at the moment these appear to be the most important ones for me:
- The beneficial effects habitual coffee intake has on type II diabetes risk are, contrary to the scientists hypothesis, not mediated by its effect on SHBG.
- In overweight men caffeine has a very shortlived beneficial effect on testosterone and the testosterone to estrogen ratio. After 4 weeks the levels do yet return to baseline, so this cannot explain the long-term benefits of habitual caffeine consumption either (maybe you should cycle caffeine instead of testosterone booster < I am just kidding ;-).
- In overweight women, there is a similar, yet negative effect on testosterone levels, which is likewise transient and lasts less than 8 weeks.
- The caffeine ads to the 'pro-testosterone' effects, but even decaffeinated coffee has some effects.
- Stopping "cold turkey" is not a good idea, when you are "on caffeine"
Regardless of whether you stop or start drinking coffeine, the endocrine "disturbances" are relatively short-lived and only further testimony to the fact that our bodies will always try to find a new "steady state" in what they consider normal.
Bottom line: There are a myriad of good reasons to drink coffee, getting more manly or more feminine is yet not one of them. Disappointed? Well, on the other hand this means coffee is no endocrine disruptor - and at least in this overweight population it seems to have a marginally beneficial baseline effects (thus the detrimental effects of abstinence).
- Beaven CM, Hopkins WG, Hansen KT, Wood MR, Cronin JB, Lowe TE. Dose effect of caffeine on testosterone and cortisol responses to resistance exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008 Apr;18(2):131-41.
- Fortunati N, Becchis M, Catalano MG, Comba A, Ferrera P, Raineri M, Berta L, Frairia R. Sex hormone-binding globulin, its membrane receptor, and breast cancer: a new approach to the modulation of estradiol action in neoplastic cells. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1999 Apr-Jun;69(1-6):473-9.
- Hryb DJ, Khan MS, Romas NA, Rosner W. The effect of extracts of the roots of the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) on the interaction of SHBG with its receptor on human prostatic membranes. Planta Med. 1995 Feb;61(1):31-2.
- Nakhla AM, Romas NA, Rosner W. Estradiol activates the prostate androgen receptor and prostate-specific antigen secretion through the intermediacy of sex hormone-binding globulin. J Biol Chem. 1997 Mar 14;272(11):6838-41.
- Wedick NM, Mantzoros CS, Ding EL, Brennan AM, Rosner B, Rimm EB, Hu FB, van Dam RM. The effects of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee on sex hormone-binding globulin and endogenous sex hormone levels: a randomized controlled trial. Nutr J. 2012 Oct 19;11(1):86.