By Gary Pepper, M.D.
In the first article in this series, The HCG-Cancer Connection, I explained how HCG is made by some types of cancer and can serve as a marker for cancer activity. Now I want to explore another effect of HCG, the stimulation of male hormone (testosterone) production.
Just to review, there is no evidence that HCG will cause cancer although conceivably certain cancer responsive tumors may grow faster due to its effect to increase estrogen and testosterone. Every woman who has had a normal pregnancy has been exposed to high HCG levels for many months so if it did cause cancer that effect would be very obvious.
What concerns me is how HCG can influence the normal ovary and its hormone metabolism. HCG is a promiscuous hormone. It will hook up with different hormone “receptors” and masquerade as these other hormones. In the previous article I explained how at very high levels HCG can stimulate the thyroid to make thyroid hormone resulting in hyperthyroidism. Another hormone effect of HCG is to mimic LH (leutinizing hormone) which turns on the production of the sex hormones by the testicle in men and ovary in woman. Surprisingly the normal ovary makes testosterone which it then converts to estrogen. FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) from the pituitary helps the ovary change testosterone to estrogen. What happens when the ovary gets a lot of LH but not FSH? This is the situation when a woman gets HCG. Testosterone levels will rise more than estrogen levels. Research shows that after a single HCG injection a rise of 20% in testosterone levels occurs in normal women, confirming this theory. During pregnancy with HCG pumping in the blood from the placenta, testosterone levels can double, resulting in acne, oily skin and (in some women) an increase in sex drive. The situation would be far worse for a pregnant woman if the placenta wasn’t also pumping out 100 times the normal amount of estrogen to counteract all the male hormones.
So why should women care if HCG makes their testosterone levels go up? Acne, oily skin and horniness are one thing but there are other effects which might be less acceptable. Testosterone is a mischievous hormone. While it causes hair growth where you don’t want it, it causes hair loss in places you want to keep it. Testosterone stimulates hair growth on the face, chest, back and abdomen. At the same time it causes hair loss from the scalp particularly at the temples and crown. This is referred to as male pattern baldness. Other effects of testosterone in women are the growth of the clitoris, known as clitoromegaly. A clitoris the size of a man’s thumb has been described in a woman due to excess testosterone exposure. Generally this degree of clitoromegaly is seen only in more extreme cases. So you may want to think twice before starting an HCG diet unless looking like Bruce Willis is your thing.
In the final installment on the hazards of HCG I will focus on other possible nasty hormone effects of HCG such as fibroids, infertility and bulging muscles.
A published study confirms what has been suspected for some time, which is that men in the Boston area over the past two decades are showing declining levels of testosterone (male hormone), in their blood. Over twenty years the average testosterone level in these men dropped from 501 to 391. Many experts regard a testosterone lower than 300 to be abnormally low and possibly needing testosterone replacement treatment. One of the scientists on the study, Dr. Thomas Travison states that when comparing testosterone levels in Boston men from 1987 to 2005 a decline in the testosterone level in every adult age group was found over this time. The researcher stated that the speed with which the levels of male hormone declined over the twenty years and the uniformity of the decline in all age groups was cause for concern.
It is known that testosterone levels decline slowly as men age. Declining male hormone levels were found even in the 45 to 71 year age range, however. Other known causes of declining testosterone levels, the growing incidence of obesity and sedentary life style in Boston men, did not explain the findings, say the researchers.
Could other factors be at work here? Alcohol has a powerful effect on male hormone levels for many reasons. Some alcohol products like bourbon and beer may have estrogen (female hormone) like plant products in them. Liver disease from excess alcohol consumption can also reduce the level of male hormone. Other drugs may have a negative effect on male hormone production such as cannabis (marijuana, Mary Jane, pot, herb, weed, splif, ganja, the bomb, the shit etc.). Although not nearly as wide spread in its use are the opiate type drugs, heroine, methadone, opium, codeine, hydrocodone etc. which can severely depress male hormone levels.
Environmental pollutants are known to cause adverse hormonal effects in men. Pollutants such as PCB’s and DDT act like female hormone and could reduce a man’s testicular function (the testicle is the site of testosterone and sperm production in men). Even herbal products can have anti-male hormone effect such as soy, black cohosh, and white clover. Perhaps the Boston men are being exposed to these influences more now then in the past and the result is sinking male hormone levels.
Before concluding that Boston men are simply pot smoking, beer drinking, soy eating effeminate couch potatoes, the authors of the study call for additional research into the possible origins of this serious loss of virility hormone in the Boston area.
Gary Pepper M.D.