Testosterone Promotes the Spread of Disease

Testosterone Promotes the Spread of Disease
Women live longer than men. Could testosterone have anything to do with it? A Penn State University study using mice showed that testosterone increased social interaction, which promoted the risk of infection. The scientists trapped mice living in Huntington County, Pennsylvania and implanted them with testosterone pellets (or a placebo) and an electronic device to track their activities. The testosterone implanted mice had more social contacts, while the mice given the fake implants had fewer social interactions. It might not work that way in humans. A Scottish study conducted in 2002 comparing gender differences in health at age 11, 13, and 15 showed that girls suffered more colds, flu and depression than boys. Gender differences were greatest in 15-year-olds, a time of surging testosterone in boys. While the Penn State study was interesting, the results might not apply to humans. (Study presented at the Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, August 8, 2008; Social Science Medicine, 56:31-39)

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