The incomplete combustion of organic molecules can result in the production of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a toxic carcinogen that is a common air pollutant across the world.
Consistent exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can cause metabolic, cardiovascular, kidney, and respiratory system health concerns. New research shows that it can also impact the reproductive system and cause a wide range of effects on adult male sex life.
There are over 100 different forms of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are all released into the air in a variety of different ways. They can come from burning coal, tar, oil, gasoline, trash, tobacco, wood, and meat. They can also be emitted as a result of naturally occurring phenomena, such as volcanic eruptions and forest fires. Out of the 100 types of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, only fifteen are considered to be human carcinogens, but many others can have other adverse side effects. For example, many polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons have been shown to also cause infertility, urogenital tract abnormalities, testicular germ cell tumors, and disruptions of androgen receptor activation.
Scientists theorize that many reproductive dysfunctions can be caused by testosterone level imbalances.
Testosterone is a steroid that plays many important roles in the development of male sexual characteristics and in sperm production in the testes, so it would make sense that an imbalance would cause reproductive problems. Scientists have long argued that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons would increase testosterone levels in men because cigarette smoke has already been positively correlated with elevated testosterone levels. However, the mechanisms involved with how smoking increases testosterone may have little to do with the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in cigarette smoke. Cigarettes are filled with chemicals that impact a number of bodily functions, so any number of the compounds in cigarette smoke could have caused increase in testosterone levels.
One recent study, however, decided to focus on men with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure unrelated to cigarette smoke.
The study showed that men who did not smoke who had some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons metabolite content in their urine had higher testosterone levels. However, once the metabolite content reached certain numbers, testosterone levels actually started to become abnormally low.
Another study showed that goldfish exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons secreted excess amounts of gonadotropin releasing hormone.
In humans, gonadotropin releasing hormone is secreted by the hypothalamus and stimulates the anterior pituitary gland to send luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone into the blood. The luteinizing hormone then stimulates Leydig cells in the testes to produce testosterone. Therefore, the elevated levels of gonadotropin releasing hormone in goldfish would indicate that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons do indeed cause elevated testosterone levels as well.
A seventeen year study showed that many men were experiencing a steady but significant decline in testosterone levels.
Scientists concluded that they could not find a health factor that could account for the decrease. It had nothing to do with obesity rates, smoking rates, aging, or any other health concern that might be related to testosterone. Some researchers suggested that this study simply showed that testosterone was simply becoming less prevalent in men. However, other scientists said that it was impossible for a big change like this do occur so quickly unless some other factor was coming into the play to promote the change. These scientists pointed out that the seventeen year analysis did not account for environmental influences, which meant that some sort of environmental factor could be causing reduced testosterone levels, especially since all the men tested lived in the same area. Some believed that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the air might be the cause of this reduction.
Different studies clearly show different results, so it is not completely clear if polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in air pollutants increase or decrease testosterone levels in men.
However, the studies do indicate that these pollutants do cause some form of testosterone level abnormality. After all, none of the studies showed that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were associated with normal testosterone levels in men. All the studies showed that pollutant had some sort of effect on testosterone secretion. The exact nature of that effect was admittedly inconsistent, but there is no question that air pollution can be causing some sort of testosterone imbalance, which can result in a number of impacts on men’s sex life.
It is generally preferred to have high testosterone levels than low and it can even be healthy to have a lot of testosterone; however, too much testosterone can result in a number problems. It can cause men to drink more alcohol, smoke more, get injured more easily, engage in more risking taking behaviors, and act in an inappropriate or even unlawful manner. There is also some evidence that higher testosterone levels are linked to high blood pressure, liver disease, skin infections, high red blood cell count, and infertility. Low testosterone, on the other hand, can cause men to have less energy, less strength, less stamina, joint pain, weight gain, muscle problems, and bone problems.
Both high testosterone levels and low testosterone levels are also linked to a number of mental health concerns, but the biggest psychological effect that testosterone level fluctuations will have is that it will alter the male sex drive. The sex drive will go up among men with higher levels of testosterone, but it will go down among men with lower levels. It can also impact sexual satisfaction since testosterone is related to the ability to get an erections and the ability to have a satisfying orgasm.
Famous conspiracy theories exist about how water pollutants are affecting certain human sexual characteristics.
However, the truth is that air pollution is probably making the biggest difference among men. It is making some men more interested in sex, while other men are getting less interested in sex. As men age, testosterone levels go down anyway, but the air pollution seems to be causing levels to decrease much faster and at much younger ages.
Cancer and climate change concerns are still definitely the main reason why polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are very problematic. However, researchers are starting to discover the far reaching impact that pollution is having on people. By understanding the effects of these pollutants, it will make it easier to deal with the ride range of health concerns that they can cause.