T Nation

New News About Alcohol & T-Levels

Now, when reading studies done on alcohols effects, I noticed something a little strange. Many of the studies I came across administerd doses of alcohol to test animals (either rats or primates) that would put their blood alcohol levels at extremely high levels. This ranged from a BAC that would put a human into a coma all the way up to fatal levels.

Other studies looked at long term excessive use of alcohol and it’s association with low T-levels.

I kept looking, and came upon this. I am not saying we should start drinking, or that alcohol is a good thing. I am not advocating anything, I am just presenting information I found interesting that I thought some of you might like.

From:

The majority of research conducted in the past 25 years, in both animals and humans, has found that alcohol inhibits testosterone secretion. However, a new study found that alcohol can induce a rapid increase in plasma and brain concentrations of testosterone in some rodents.

“We have demonstrated that there are very different results in the way two different groups of male rats form testosterone after acute administration of alcohol,” said Robert H. Purdy, senior staff scientist in the department of neuropharmacology at The Scripps Research Institute and senior author of the study.

“These differences in animals may reflect similar individual differences in humans, and provide new insights for understanding individual differences in the behavioral and endocrine pathology associated with alcohol abuse.”
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Fourfold Increase

According to the ACER report: Researchers “injected either alcohol or 1,1-dideuteroethanol (2 g alcohol/kg body weight) into the abdominal cavities of two groups of rats, 30 un-operated and 24 adrenalectomized and castrated (ADX/GDX) Wistar males. 1,1-dideuteroethanol is a nonradioactive form of alcohol in which two of the hydrogen atoms on carbon atom #1 of ethanol have been replaced by deuterium atoms, which can then be traced.”

They then used mass spectrometry to determine both the amount of neuroactive steroids present and the degree of deuterium in specific neuroactive steroids isolated from brain samples.

The resarchers found that concentrations of testosterone increased fourfold in the frontal cortex and threefold in the plasma of the un-operated rats 30 minutes after alcohol administration. ADX/GDX rats had testosterone concentrations that were only five percent of those found in the un-operated rats after alcohol injection. The findings demonstrated that alcohol oxidation is directly linked to testosterone biosynthesis, the authors said.
Unanticipated Results

“Our finding of a direct link between alcohol administration and the level of the neuroactive steroid testosterone in the brain of these experimental animals was unanticipated from prior studies with another species of rats,” Purdy said.

“Although many other studies clearly demonstrate that chronic consumption of high dosages of alcohol appears to be consistently inhibitory and suppresses reproductive function,” said Dennis D. Rasmussen, research associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Washington, "this study raises the possibility that episodes of alcohol consumption may also at least temporarily increase testosterone levels, with the direction of the response likely being dependent upon a variety of factors, including dosage and personal characteristics.

“This particular dosage produced blood alcohol levels and behavioral responses consistent with intoxication. So, alcohol consumption, under at least some conditions and by at least some individuals, may acutely stimulate testosterone levels in the plasma and brain of both males and females and thus could elicit some of the behavioral effects associated with increased testosterone levels, such as increased libido or aggression.”
The Role of Testosterone

Rasmussen said, his findings join those of two other studies in which alcohol administration increased plasma testosterone levels in a gender- and dose-dependent manner. “Together these studies are important,” he said, “because they illustrate that what has become a largely accepted principal - that alcohol consumption inhibits plasma testosterone levels and reproductive function - is not universally true.”

Rasmussen suggested that future research build upon and add to previous findings regarding alcohol’s effects on testosterone. "It would be important to determine whether lower dosages of alcohol, which do not induce rapid pronounced intoxication and ataxia, would also produce the acute increase in testosterone, and whether this response to lower dosages would be consistent across different strains of rats. Also, does tolerance develop with repeated administrations?

“Does this increase in testosterone occur following elective self-administration of alcohol? Finally, and probably most interesting, what role might the demonstrated changes in testosterone play in behavioral responses to acute ethanol consumption? Are there gender differences in these responses? And, if the responses do occur in females, are they different during different stages of a woman’s cycle?”

Thanks for the article. I only saw the results they found about T-levels in the brain. Were there any findings for overall levels? If not, all this study says is that alcohol can make you aggressive and horny…gee who knew?

“alcohol…may acutely stimulate testosterone levels in the plasma and brain…”. Plasma (aka blood) would-I beleive- indicate that testosterone was raised globally, rather than just localized to the brain.

I love how the average person will come away thinking this is the ONLY role of testosterone… nevertheless this was still a great article.

Many humans have drunk alcohol for many thousands of years, at times it was the main source of fluids. Anyone unable to handle it died off. Those left can handle it. You alone can determine whether it is a good or bad thing for you. Some people lift lots then drink lots and it is not a problem. Overall though, too excess, no good for anyone.

And rats by the way have never had a culture of alcohol consumption that affected their evolution.

[quote]Magarhe wrote:
Many humans have drunk alcohol for many thousands of years, at times it was the main source of fluids. Anyone unable to handle it died off. Those left can handle it. You alone can determine whether it is a good or bad thing for you. Some people lift lots then drink lots and it is not a problem. Overall though, too excess, no good for anyone.

And rats by the way have never had a culture of alcohol consumption that affected their evolution.[/quote]

Good post. For thousands of years drinking alcoholic beverages was the only way of consuming fluids that were gauranteed to have some degree of sanitation.

[quote]midnightamnesia wrote:
Now, when reading studies done on alcohols effects, I noticed something a little strange. Many of the studies I came across administerd doses of alcohol to test animals (either rats or primates) that would put their blood alcohol levels at extremely high levels. This ranged from a BAC that would put a human into a coma all the way up to fatal levels.[/quote]

Nice work. I have always felt that “Alcohol lowers T” to be a huge myth in need of being busted. What does reasonable consumption of alcohol do to one’s testosterone levels? I haven’t seen any good information on this point.

I don’t drink, so I’m not looking to rationalize a bad habit. I just had way too many very high testosterone college buddies who drank constantly. When someone is telling you something is true, but when you see a world where that “truth” seems false, you have to wonder what’s going on.

I don’t really see how alcohol reduces T level can be a myth as it has been shown again and again.

Moreover, someone may look like a high-T individual but the way one looks/acts is probably far more a representation of prior testosterone levels during important neurodevelopmental periods or during puberty in terms of physical structure and muscle mass.

One can start injecting supraphysiologic levels of T for months on end past these important periods and from what research shows (if they don’t lift/eat to grow) they will be a few pounds heavier, minimally leaner but chances are they won’t be hairier, have a squarer jaw, grow taller or start being an Alpha Male and such.

On the other hand, I see far more lazy fat f*cks that drink they case of beer or bottles of wine on a routine basis that look like a real life effect of alcohol lowers T than the the few college students who drink like there is no tomorrow.

Anyways…,
AlexH

Anything that reduces stress has the potential to raise T levels.

Take a group of average stressed-out workaholic office workers, measure their T levels, then tell them to do anything that might relax them - drink moderate amounts of alcohol, smoke moderate amounts of pot, etc. After a few days measure the T levels again. I am willing to make a bet on the result.

That being said, I’ve seen a study that showed what could be interpreted as the opposite - stress raising the T levels. But it was “positive stress” (the winners of a pretty tough competition) and it was a one-off thing.

So, in other words, relax and be a winner. Wait, that’s pretty much the T Man stereotype. Hmmm… Something to think about.

Good article.

“I’ll drink to that” - Dean Martin

[quote]Dandalex wrote:
I don’t really see how alcohol reduces T level can be a myth as it has been shown again and again.
[/quote]

I see how it is not a myth, but rather widely misrepresented.

Look at the levels of alcohol given to these rats/primates in any study concluding that T is decreased. Often, it is a very high level (most commonly OVER 1.5 gram of alcohol/kg of body weight).

That, roughly calculated out, is like being injected with 13 shots at once, given no genetic or aquired tollerance to alcohol. This would eaily put an animal’s BAC above .28, which is an excessive amount.

Also, there are other studies that confirm T levels increase even in women with small amounts of alcohol.

A 2006 study of over 1200 women found that testosterone and DHEA levels were increased by about 30% in pre-menopausal women who drank one drink of alcohol per day. Post-menopausal women also saw an increase, although of only 10-20%. (PMID:16933054)

Again, I DO NOT think that alcohol is something weightlifters should drink, I am simply bringing forward what I have found.

And, I must say, it is sad to see people no longer able to truly enjoy a single glass of red wine with dinner due to fear it may hamper their goals.

This is really stupid but I find it interesting… After a night of hard-core drinking my abs look better the next day. Incentive! haha

[quote]midnightamnesia wrote:
Dandalex wrote:
I don’t really see how alcohol reduces T level can be a myth as it has been shown again and again.

I see how it is not a myth, but rather widely misrepresented. [/quote]

The myth is this: Alcohol lowers testosterone levels. Even you admit that the studies supporting this involve high - if not toxic - levels of alcohol.

If someone says, “Excessive alcohol consumption lowers testosterone,” cool. That’s not a myth. It’s this, “I can’t have a beer with my friends because my T levels will go down the toilet” nonsense that is mythical.

[quote]Dfresh wrote:
This is really stupid but I find it interesting… After a night of hard-core drinking my abs look better the next day. Incentive! haha[/quote]

That’s called massive “Dehydration”.

I’m always a little skeptical about studies and what they prove. I’m kind of in the same boat as Cal Law in that I believe what I observe in real life. My buddies and I have been putting away some heavy doses of alcohol for years and a few of them like myself smoke like a pack a day. They are the horniest bunch a guys I’ve ever seen, and throw some pretty decent weight around in the gym (for guys who never juiced).

And to top it off none are young 20yr olds or fat either. Me on the other hand a few nights of partying and my strength levels decrease by 10-20%. I think it’s an individual thing and different people respond differently . I also feel this applies to different training styles diets etc. The same things don’t affect or work for everyone in the same way.

Why are we so concerned about transient T levels? I’m not trying to be a jerk but we need a little perspective.

  1. Ethanol (a.k.a. “alcohol”) directly inhibits muscle growth.

  2. Any transient increase in test will induce negative feedback, and we’ll have lower T levels.

David Barr wins.

Maybe my post about drinking before doing pullups wasn’t so crazy.

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1163124&pageNo=0#1163629

“This is really stupid but I find it interesting… After a night of hard-core drinking my abs look better the next day. Incentive! haha”

That is so true.