Testosterone: the good, the bad, the roll-on

Testosterone is in the news a lot these days as researchers use it to explain human behavior. How can such an important chemical be so good and bad at the same time? by John Dodge
Written by John Dodge, Contributor

It must be testosterone week, month or something like that because the male hormone is constantly in the news. It certainly can count itself among the most studied hormones.

Testosterone is responsible for everything from global financial mayhem and to preserving the species. It was revered by athletes who believed taking anabolic steroids could enhance their performance. Some believe Hitler injected testosterone in a bizarre chemical cocktail administered by his physician.

As the National Geographic video below says ominously, "testosterone has a reputation, a bad reputation."

Roll-on to restore normal testosterone levels

Testosterone certainly influences male behavior in a big, big way. The human species could not survive without it. Testosterone has long been known  to cause aggression, anger and give men their sex drive, but now studies are focusing on more specific behaviors.

And for men who don't have enough of it, there soon will be a roll-on remedy. Acrux yesterday reported success in Phase III trials of Axiron roll-on lotion to restore testosterone-deficient men to normal levels. The company reported that three quarters of its test sample showed normal testosterone levels after 15 days of treatment.

But like too little, too much can also be a problem. Studies suggest testosterone has caused recessions and general misery in the financial markets because high levels prompt traders to take excessive risks. I posted about that yesterday here at SmartPlanet. Just prior to that, SmartPlanet carried another post about how long ring fingers indicated a wandering eye in Neanderthals. Long ring fingers are a sign post for higher levels of testosterone in the womb.

Testosterone can also elevate naturally just at the sight of a pretty woman.  Researchers at the University of California found that testosterone in males rises 14 per cent after interacting with an attractive female for just five minutes (It raises the stress-relieving hormone cortisol 48 per cent!). However, hanging around with men makes testosterone levels go down, the researchers found. Results of the study were just published in the U.K.'s Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Testosterone levels are easily checked by taking a simple saliva swab and testing for the hormone.

I suspect testosterone will always be under a microscope because it's linked to so many high-impact behaviors. It's a perpetual target in efforts to unravel the mysteries of life.

Follow me on Twitter.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards