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Race, Testosterone, and Prostate Cancer

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JP Rushton

Richard Lynn

L:inda Gottfredson

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1900 words

I have explicitly shown how the ‘black men have more T’ canard is false. I have provided sufficient evidence for this claim. People claim to be unbiased—like PumpkinPerson—and say they’re only ‘looking for the truth’. However, it’s clear that in all of my conversations with him on the matter, he’s reaching for anything that affirms his worldview when he is shown evidence to the contrary of his beliefs (Nyhan and Reifler, 2012). It’s so very easy to notice this. I will provide yet more robust data on the black/white testosterone ‘gap’ while also critiquing some other studies that didn’t control for some pretty important variables. The gist is: after controlling for the most important variables, (waist circumference, BMI) the ‘testosterone difference’ all but disappears—and I don’t think people will argue for .0068 ng/ml higher testosterone cause things like prostate cancer and higher rates of crime.

Gapstur et al (2002) studied 5,115 individuals from aged 18-30 who completed baseline examinations at one of four locations from 1985-86: Birmingham, Alabama; Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Oakland, California. Then, 4 follow-ups were completed (Year 2: 1987-88; year 5: 1990-91; year 7: 1992-93; and year 10: 1995-96).

The number of blacks who completed the baseline information was 1157 whereas for whites it was 1171. They measured waist circumference (WC) at the minimal abdominal girth. Whether or not one took medication was self-reported, so Gapstur et al (2002) separated medications into two categories: regulation or interfering with binding likely, or interfering with binding unlikely/impossible.

Now, before I discuss the results of Gapstur et al (2002) I must talk about why they controlled for BMI (body mass index) and WC along with age. Since the obesity rate differs by race/ethnicity, along with obesity frequently changing with age, all three of the variables need to be controlled for to get a clearer picture of what circulating testosterone looks like—on average—between blacks and whites. White men are slightly more likely than black men to be obese/overweight in America (being African-American seems to be a protector against obesity; African American men with more African ancestry are less likely to be obese), however the sample used by Gapstur et al (2002) had blacks who had a higher WC and BMI than whites.

At year 2, there was no significant difference in total serum testosterone between the races with or without adjustment for age, BMI and WC. The only part in this analysis that blacks had higher testosterone levels than whites was at year ten, with black ‘enjoying’ .0063 ng/ml higher levels than whites. Furthermore, there was no significant difference in testosterone between blacks and whites after adjustment for age. Only adjusting for BMI, blacks had substantially higher levels of testosterone (.21 ng/ml) however after including WC and the changes in WC between blacks and whites (blacks had a greater change over the study) this difference all but disappeared. The age-associated changes in testosterone between blacks and whites were similar after adjusting for waist circumference and BMI. Also, after adjusting for the relevant confounds, free testosterone did not differ between blacks and whites.

Measures of body size (i.e., BMI and WC) must be controlled for when comparing race/ethny since levels of obesity vary amongst them as well as obesity constantly changing with age. Furthermore, testosterone increased for both groups between the ages of 20-21 to 22-23 (blacks had a higher T level by .7 ng/ml at age 20-21), with the two groups diverging at age 22-23 with blacks having higher levels of total testosterone by .1 ng/ml.

The average ages for the cohort were 28.4 and 28.8 for blacks and whites respectfully. Thus, blacks (theoretically) had a slight advantage due to the age confound, which had to be controlled for. The unadjusted mean total testosterone, SHGB, and free testosterone were not statistically significant at any point in the study except at year 10 where blacks had slightly higher levels at 5.8 ng/ml compared to whites’ 5.69 ng/ml. The difference in year 2 (when testosterone levels raised for both groups) was a difference of 5.8 and 5.75 for blacks and whites respectfully. Free testosterone did not differ at all from years 2, 7, and 10 (.17 compared to .17 in year 2; .16 to .15 in year 7; and .16 to .15 in year 10; blacks and whites respectfully).

Levels of testosterone were also found to be lower in 12-13-year-old blacks compared to whites (Lopez et al, 2013). In this study, Mexican Americans had higher T levels, while after adjustments for confounds, blacks and whites did not differ. They conclude that testosterone levels were not higher in black compared to white adolescents. Black men have higher levels of estradiol than white men, not testosterone (Roerrmann et al, 2007; Lopez et al, 2013). These studies are done to see the relationship between PCa (prostate cancer) and certain hormones. These and other studies have shown that the black-white difference isn’t large (Richard et al, 1992; Roerrmann et al, 2007; Lopez et al, 2013; Richard et al, 2014) and that prostate cancer is not caused by abnormally high testosterone levels (Stattin et al, 2003; Michaud, Billups, and Partins, 2015).

Ross et al (1986) did not have a measure of central adiposity (WC), thusly the results were confounded. Further, the other study Rushton cited in Race, Evolution, and Behavior is and Nyborg (1992) on discharged army veterans stating a difference of 3 percent, Ellis and Nyborg did not control for WC nor BMI. As seen in the Gapstur et al (2002) study, WC is an extremely important variable to control for as decreases in testosterone are high when central adiposity is high (Wang et al, 2011) so if we are trying to compare two ethnies on one variable such as testosterone, all of the above variables MUST be controlled for, and if they are not then they can be safely disregarded.

The non-inclusion of a measure of WC is the most likely cause of the different results found in Gapstur et al (2002). If you don’t control for WC, then you cannot get an actual and reliable testosterone reading since the results will be confounded. Anyone who says otherwise that the aforementioned variables do not need to be controlled for literally have no idea what they’re talking about.

Lastly, a few more things must be addressed. In PumpkinPerson’s most recent article “Racial differences in testosterone“, he seems to now disavow testosterone as a useful measure since it can fluctuate due to winning sports games, to marriage, to anticipating confrontation, to being in a relationship, to honor culture. Now his thing is exposure to androgens (testosterone) in the womb. Supposedly, blacks have the lowest digit ratio, and low digit ratios signify higher levels of testosterone in vitro (Manning et al, 2004). However, the relationship is far from proven (Koehler, Simmons, and Rhodes, 2004; Yan et al, 2008, Medland et al, 2010) with these results, leaning towards no. Koheler, Simmons, and Rhodes (2004) failed to find any significant correlation between 2d/4d ratio and traits mediated by testosterone. So this is another claim that’s been put to bed as well.

There is a lot of bullshit to sift through out there; some things may seem simple at face value, but if you dig into it, it’s much more likely to be more complex than what it looks to be on the surface. This one singular variable (testosterone) is one of them. It does not differ between the races; exposure to androgens in the womb doesn’t affect digit ratio; high testosterone does not cause prostate cancer, but low testosterone does (Morgentaler, Brunning, and DeWolf, 1996) ; you can literally inject exogenous testosterone into a man with PCa and not effect this malady (Eisenberg, 2015; Boyle et al, 2016)

I hope this is the last time I have to say this: testosterone does not differ between blacks and whites. Testosterone is not the cause of differences in mortality rate in regards to PCa. (Diet is the much more likely factor) People still regurgitate Rushton’s bullshit from REB; Ross et al (1986) still gets cited to this day, when there are much more robust studies and samples that controlled for the relevant confounds that Ross et al (1986) did not control for. This is why that study is garbage and should not be looked at when assessing testosterone differences between the races. Much larger and robust samples show that there is no testosterone difference when the WC is controlled for.

Testosterone is not higher in black Americans; the data shows either an extremely negligible difference or no difference, not the huge 13 and 21 percent difference in free and total testosterone in black Americans in Ross et al (1986).

For the last time, and say it with me: testosterone does NOT differ by race, 2d:4d ratio is NOT influenced by androgens in vitro, and testosterone does NOT influence PCa rates. Testosterone is an extremely important hormone for vital functioning, so whoever believes the myths of the high testosterone savage and LIKES having low testosterone, have fun with a slew of maladies later in life.

References

Boyle, P., Koechlin, A., Bota, M., Donofrio, A., Zaridze, D. G., Perrin, P., . . . Boniol, M. (2016). Endogenous and exogenous testosterone and the risk of prostate cancer and increased prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level: a meta-analysis. BJU International,118(5), 731-741. doi:10.1111/bju.13417

Dobs, A., & Morgentaler, A. (2008). Does Testosterone Therapy Increase the Risk of Prostate Cancer? Endocrine Practice,14(7), 904-911. doi:10.4158/ep.14.7.904

Eisenberg, M. L. (2015). Testosterone Replacement Therapy and Prostate Cancer Incidence. The World Journal of Men’s Health, 33(3), 125–129. http://doi.org/10.5534/wjmh.2015.33.3.125

Gapstur, S. M., Kopp, P., Gann, P. H., Chiu, B. C., Colangelo, L. A., & Liu, K. (2006). Changes in BMI modulate age-associated changes in sex hormone binding globulin and total testosterone, but not bioavailable testosterone in young adult men: the CARDIA Male Hormone Study. International Journal of Obesity. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803465

Koehler, N., Simmons, L. W., & Rhodes, G. (2004). How well does second-to-fourth-digit ratio in hands correlate with other indications of masculinity in males? Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,271(Suppl_5). doi:10.1098/rsbl.2004.0163

Lopez, D. S., Peskoe, S. B., Joshu, C. E., Dobs, A., Feinleib, M., Kanarek, N., . . . Platz, E. A. (2013). Racial/ethnic differences in serum sex steroid hormone concentrations in US adolescent males. Cancer Causes & Control,24(4), 817-826. doi:10.1007/s10552-013-0154-8

Michaud, J. E., Billups, K. L., & Partin, A. W. (2015). Testosterone and prostate cancer: an evidence-based review of pathogenesis and oncologic risk. Therapeutic Advances in Urology,7(6), 378-387. doi:10.1177/1756287215597633

Medland, S. E., Zayats, T., Glaser, B., Nyholt, D. R., Gordon, S. D., Wright, M. J., . . . Evans, D. M. (2010). A Variant in LIN28B Is Associated with 2D:4D Finger-Length Ratio, a Putative Retrospective Biomarker of Prenatal Testosterone Exposure. The American Journal of Human Genetics,86(4), 519-525. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2010.02.017

Manning, J., Stewart, A., Bundred, P., & Trivers, R. (2004). Sex and ethnic differences in 2nd to 4th digit ratio of children. Early Human Development,80(2), 161-168. doi:10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2004.06.004

Morgentaler, A., Brunning, C. O., 3rd, & DeWolf, W. C. (1996). Occult Prostate Cancer in Men With Low Serum Testosterone Levels. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association,276(23), 1904. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540230054035

Nyhan, B., & Reifler, J. (2010). When Corrections Fail: The Persistence of Political Misperceptions. Political Behavior,32(2), 303-330. doi:10.1007/s11109-010-9112-2

Richard, A., Rohrmann, S., Zhang, L., Eichholzer, M., Basaria, S., Selvin, E., . . . Platz, E. A. (2014). Racial variation in sex steroid hormone concentration in black and white men: a meta-analysis. Andrology,2(3), 428-435. doi:10.1111/j.2047-2927.2014.00206.x

Rohrmann, S., Nelson, W. G., Rifai, N., Brown, T. R., Dobs, A., Kanarek, N., . . . Platz, E. A. (2007). Serum Estrogen, But Not Testosterone, Levels Differ between Black and White Men in a Nationally Representative Sample of Americans. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism,92(7), 2519-2525. doi:10.1210/jc.2007-0028

Wang, C., Jackson, G., Jones, T. H., Matsumoto, A. M., Nehra, A., Perelman, M. A., … Cunningham, G. (2011). Low Testosterone Associated With Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome Contributes to Sexual Dysfunction and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Men With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care, 34(7), 1669–1675. http://doi.org/10.2337/dc10-2339

Yan RHY, Malisch JL, Hannon RM, Hurd PL, Garland T Jr (2008) Selective Breeding for a Behavioral Trait Changes Digit Ratio. PLoS ONE 3(9): e3216. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0003216

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3 Comments

  1. szopeno says:

    Hi,
    I know absolutely nothing about the topic, however I have a question. When measuring whether IQ is related to crime, one can control for education, number of books one read, and then one can came to conclusion “after controlling for variables like education or literacy, all relation between IQ and crime disappears”. Or, one could say something like (I am making this up) “in males fat males commit less crimes. And after controlling for fat percentage, the difference for crime between males and females disappear”.

    So the question is: if you are controlling for variables X, Y and Z between whites and blacks, are variables X, Y and Z distributed the same in whites/blacks? Because if not, by controlling for those variables (whatever they are) you are essentially arteficially making the differences to go away.

    Could you please comment on that or point me to your earlier posts, if you have already addressed the issue?

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      The current numbers are 69 percent of black American men are obese along with 72 percent of white men. Black men are more likely to be lean, while white men are more likely to be fat.

      African ancestry seems to protect against obesity (though I don’t know what the cause is). However in the context of the study I’m citing here, black men had a slightly higher BMI and WC at every follow-up except year 2 where they had a 1.5 inch smaller WC. Testosterone also varies with a whole slew of factors as I mentioned above. Obesity constantly fluctuates with age and ethnicity along with BMI. So controlling for those variables, we will see how the levels would look without them (obviously).,

      Further, Ross et al (1986) didn’t have the measure of central adiposity (WC), AND they collected assays between 10 am and 3 pm. Testosterone levels need to be measured in the morning. Levels are highest at 8 am and lowest at 8 pm. Since they didn’t have a set time to measure and allowed the students to get assayed whenever they wanted, the results were hugely confounded and therefore not acceptable.

      Even then, if blacks had, say, 10 percent higher testosterone, it wouldn’t matter. People believe that testosterone causes crime. There is a .14 correlation between physical aggression and testosterone. It also doesn’t cause prostate cancer. So if blacks were to have considerably higher testosterone, it would not be an explanatory factor for the above.

      PumpkinPerson brought the same thing up to me that you did. I believe these variables need controlling for. The studies that show blacks have higher levels didn’t control for those confounds and, in the case of Ross et al (1986), they didn’t collect the assays at the same time so the results were confounded and therefore not acceptable.

      Like

    • szopeno says:

      Thanks for the answer.

      Like

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