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Emotional bonding may lead to lower testosterone in men

New York: Not just your wife, emotional relationships with siblings, friends, neighbours and co-workers can also result in lower testosterone levels as you age, researchers including an Indian-origin scientist report.

It has long been known that among humans (and some other species as well), males who cooperate amicably with their female mates in raising and nurturing offspring often have lower testosterone levels than their more aggressive and occasionally grumpy counterparts.

Emotional bonding
Representational picture

Now, according to two anthropologists from University of Notre Dame in Indiana, not just spouse but other relatives, good friends, colleagues and neighbours can play a role.

"Compared to other men, fathers and married men often have lower testosterone. We think this helps them be more nurturing. We are the first to show that this also occurs with other social relationships,” suggested Lee T. Gettler, assistant professor of anthropology.

We know that men and women with social support have much better health, overall, while testosterone affects risks for depression, cardiovascular disease, obesity and some cancers.

Most of us have probably seen the TV commercials promoting testosterone as a remedy for symptoms of ageing or “manopause”.

“Our findings suggest that the social side effects of these testosterone supplements in older men should be carefully studied,” added Rahul C. Oka, assistant professor of anthropology.

While testosterone does go down with age, the potential social benefits that can accompany lower testosterone suggest it is not all doom and gloom.

“We hope our findings, connecting these two areas, help stimulate new conversations about social support, biology and well-being,” the authors noted.

The paper is forthcoming in the journal Hormones and Behavior.

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