Salivary Testosterone Levels and Health Status in Men and Women in the British General Population: Findings from the Third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3)

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Abstract

Context:

Salivary T (Sal-T) measurement by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectroscopy resents the opportunity to examine health correlates of Sal-T in a large-scale population survey.

Objective:

This study sought to examine associations between Sal-T and health-related factors in men and women age 18–74 years.

Design and Setting:

Morning saliva samples were obtained from participants in a cross-sectional probability-sample survey of the general British population (Natsal-3). Self-reported health and lifestyle questions were administered as part of a wider sexual health interview.

Participants:

Study participants included 1599 men and 2123 women.

Methods:

Sal-T was measured using liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectroscopy. Linear regression was used to examine associations between health factors and mean Sal-T.

Results:

In men, mean Sal-T was associated with a range of health factors after age adjustment, and showed a strong independent negative association with body mass index (BMI) in multivariable analysis. Men reporting cardiovascular disease or currently taking medication for depression had lower age-adjusted Sal-T, although there was no association with cardiovascular disease after adjustment for BMI. The decline in Sal-T with increasing age remained after adjustment for health-related factors. In women, Sal-T declined with increasing age; however, there were no age-independent associations with health-related factors or specific heath conditions with the exception of higher Sal-T in smokers.

Conclusions:

Sal-T levels were associated, independently of age, with a range of self-reported health markers, particularly BMI, in men but not women. The findings support the view that there is an age-related decline in Sal-T in men and women, which cannot be explained by an increase in ill health. Our results demonstrate the potential of Sal-T as a convenient measure of tissue androgen exposure for population research.

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