The Testosterone EpidemicJun 03, 2022
By: Chad Burnham DPT, FAFS, CSCS
Are You The Man Your Father Was?!
What if I told you that you may not be the man your father was. In fact, your father may not have been the man his father was! I know that sounds pretty deep…Well it is! Some would say that the future is beginning to look just a little more pink. Before we talk about this epidemic going on in the world of men's health I want to drop this picture here - (Take a good look at it and digest it before you read the rest of this).
This was the picture that really resonated with me and made me start to focus on my own health. I only saw this picture a few months ago at a conference that I attended. It was a presentation by Ali Gilbert (Queen of Men’s Health) and was regarding the testosterone epidemic in the world today. Not only did my jaw drop on this picture, but a light bulb went off in my head that made me reevaluate my own health.
Prior to Ali’s presentation, I am afraid to admit that I had never heard of her. Sorry Ali. Ali has been specializing in men’s health for sometime and from her presentation it definitely was evident that she knew her stuff. There were a lot of great speakers there that day, but Ali came out on stage with straight badassery and captured all of my attention. So much so that she is now my life/health/training/men’s health coach. Some would even say that we could be siblings. I will let you decide lol!
Now, going back to that initial picture, it is evident that there has been significant changes impacting men over the last 60-70 years. It is very obvious to see that men are beginning to lose their masculinity. What could be the cause of this? Research has been revealing that men’s testosterone levels have been declining for decades. Some studies are showing that in the United States since the 1980’s, men’s testosterone levels have been declining at about 1% per year.
But why? For starters, the rates of obesity are only getting worse. In fact, one out of every three adults is obese in the United States, which is about 36% of the population. Research tells us that there is a strong link between low testosterone and obesity as well as being overweight. There is also a strong likelihood that being overweight or obese can raise your chances of having high cholesterol. Now if we have high cholesterol and see a doctor, the chances of being prescribed a statin are pretty high. Statins may reduce overall cholesterol, but in the process can also reduce your (already low) testosterone levels. Can we see a pattern here? This is just one example of the many causes of low testosterone that is contributing to this epidemic.
Another example would be the increased exposure to environmental toxins, such as pesticides, parabens, as well as chemicals that are common in household products like phthalates. This could involve plastic containers (tupperware, water bottles), food packaging, personal care products (soap, shampoo), and believe it to not…cash register receipts.
I know it sounds crazy, but I was the type of person that used plastic tupperware for my meal prep and then would heat it up before I ate the food that was in them. These plastics contain what are called xenoestrogens, which are not true estrogens, but estrogen mimickers. When food is heated up in these containers, these xenoestrogens get absorbed into the food that you are eating.
How do I know that I might not be the man I think I am? In other words, what are some of the signs and symptoms that I may be experiencing low testosterone? Some of the most common symptoms of low testosterone are feeling lethargic, low motivation, and brain fog. Other symptoms could include low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and feeling moodiness/irritable.
Just in case you are not completely convinced that you should be looking into your testosterone levels, I want you to know that research has shown that low testosterone can lead to other issues. You can have a higher chance of having a cardiovascular event, develop high blood pressure, and be at a higher risk for diabetes…to name a few. I became more interested in my hormone levels mainly because of the link of low testosterone and prostate cancer. Although the research is mixed on this, this is something to consider, especially with a family history of prostate cancer.
So, what should I do next?
First, I would start by controlling what you can control. What I mean by this is start controlling your environment like I discussed above. For example, ditch the plastic and get yourself some good glassware. This will be a great step in the right direction.
Next, I will say that you are going to have to be an advocate for yourself. I would start by talking with your PCP about getting some labs done. If that gets you nowhere, like it did with me, then I would go outside of your doctor. But, can I do this? Absolutely you can!! This is what I did. There are many options for this. You can find another provider like I did, thanks to my coach, Ali. However, if that is not an option then there are online lab companies that work closely with local labs (i.e. Labcorp, Quest Diagnostics) that you can order labs from and get your results within 2-3 days (all depending on the test).
If this is something that you are looking to get more information about, then I will throw a shameless plug out there for my coach, Ali Gilbert (Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thealigilbert/). If you are not looking for a coach then she has an online testosterone school that is filled with tons of great information: https://www.thetestosteroneschool.com/
Bottom line…Check your male ego at the door and get on top of your health. Our future depends on it!!
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