Podcast #399: The Virility Paradox

Testosterone. It’s what makes men, well, men. But my guest today argues that this hormone is a paradox. On the one hand, it makes men physically strong, courageous, and ambitious. But on the other hand, testosterone can contribute to prostate cancer, heart disease, and asocial aggression.

My guests’s name is Charles Ryan. He’s an oncologist that specializes in prostate cancer, and in his book, The Virility Paradox, he walks readers through the upsides and the downsides of testosterone. We begin our conversation discussing testosterone’s role in prostate cancer and how Charles artificially lowers T levels in cancer patients to prevent its growth. Charles then walks us through how our exposure to testosterone in the womb has a huge role in how we respond to testosterone later in life. We then delve into the positives and negatives of T, including the way it decreases the risk of Alzheimer’s but increases your chances of balding and can even inspire asocial aggression. We end our conversation discussing whether TRT is the fountain of youth for older men or can turn young guys into beasts.

Show Highlights

  • How Dr. Ryan got started studying testosterone and its effects 
  • The ways in which testosterone depletion affects Dr. Ryan’s patients 
  • Signs of prostrate enlargement 
  • Prostrate cancer statistics and treatments 
  • What characteristics does testosterone drive (in both men and women)?
  • The relationship between parenting and T levels 
  • Testosterone sensitivity and how every man reacts differently to it 
  • Fetal testosterone and how it impacts T levels throughout life 
  • 2D:4D ratios, and how that impacts one’s response to T 
  • Testosterone and a man’s sex drive 
  • What life is like on testosterone hormone therapy 
  • Falling in love, libido and sex, and T
  • A surprising link between testosterone and Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Why does testosterone stimulate facial hair growth, but also balding?
  • What’s with the onslaught of drugs that reduce balding? Are there dangers in taking them?
  • The connection between asocial aggression and T, and the danger in connecting high T to criminality 
  • Testosterone’s negative effects; should men temper their biology?
  • Older men with declining T and TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) 
  • Men in their 20s and 30s taking TRT for functionally “cosmetic” reasons 

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