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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)

Clifton, S, Macdowall, W, Copas, AJ, Tanton, C, Keevil, BG, Lee, DM, Mitchell, KR, Field, N, Sonnenberg, P, Bancroft, J, Mercer, CH, Wallace, AM, Johnson, AM, Wellings, K and Wu, FCW (2016) 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). The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 101 (11). pp. 3939-3951. ISSN 0021-972X

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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 healthrelated 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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