Low Testosterone in Young Men: Everyday Contributors
Most of my male hormone patients tend to be in the 50+ age group, there has been an increase in the number of younger men I see—men in their 20s and early 30s.
Low Testosterone Contributors: Health and Environmental Factors
Testosterone in men has been on the decline over the last decades. This decline appears to be on a population level and is independent of aging. Changes are likely due to increasing rates of health and environmental factors.
On the health factors aspect, low testosterone has been linked with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the group of risk factors that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other health problems. The risk factors are high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. When several of these conditions occur together, risks are higher.
Regarding the environmental factors, research published in December 2016 links the chemicals BPA and BP-3 with low total testosterone levels in adolescent boys. This study showed that urinary BPA and BP-3 levels of males 12-19 were inversely associated with total testosterone. This means that men with high exposure to BPA or BP-3 had lower levels of testosterone. Men with low levels exposure to these chemicals had higher levels of testosterone. High levels of BPA or BP-3n exposure appears to lower testosterone in men.
For BPA, the average total testosterone level was lower in men with exposure to the substance. Exposure to BPA and low testosterone was the strongest for men who had the 2nd and 4th highest level of exposure. For BP-3, male adolescents with the 3rd and 4th highest exposure had significantly lower total testosterone than males with the lowest exposure. (This study found the opposite among adolescent girls—higher than normal levels of testosterone with exposure.)
BPA and BP-3: Where They Are and How to Avoid Them
This finding is interesting because all of us commonly get exposed to both BPA and BP-3 in our everyday lives. Given these chemicals can disrupt the endocrine system, they can have a harmful impact on hormones (e.g., testosterone) and therefore the overall development and health of adolescent males.
Both BPA and BP-3 are part of everyday life. BPA (Bisphenol A) is an industrial chemical used in plastics and resins. Found in plastic bottles and storage containers, the lining of metal food cans, store receipts (that powdery coating on the paper). Risks of BPA are well-known, and looking for “BPA-free” on labels and products themselves can help you avoid them.
Other tips to avoid BPA include:
- Switching to glass water bottles
- Eating disposable cutlery made from natural or recycled products
- Start using glass storage containers
- Choosing fresh over microwavable food whenever possible,
- And getting paperless receipts. If you can’t avoid a paper receipt, store them separately (if keeping) and wash your hands afterward. (Don’t use hand sanitizer —this worsens the effect.)
BP-3 (also called oxybenzone), is a naturally occurring chemical found in some flowering plants. Used in products because it absorbs UV rays. It’s often used as a UV-blocker in:
- Hair products
- Plastic containers (to prevent the UV rays altering the contents)
As with BPA, the best way to avoid BP-3 or oxybenzone is to read labels. Go for natural products and cosmetics and choose sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
If you are in the Los Angeles area and think you could be suffering from low testosterone levels or have any questions, call my office to schedule an appointment.
Scinicariello F, Buser MC. Serum testosterone concentrations and urinary Bisphenol A,
Benzophenone-3, Triclosan, and Paraben levels in male and female children and adolescents: NHANES 2011–2012. Environ Health Perspect. 2016; 124(12), 1898-1904.
Travison TG, Araujo AB, O’Donnell AB, Kupelian V, McKinlay JB. A population-level decline in serum testosterone levels in American men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007;92(1), 196-202.