A good mix

These days it takes a special kind of ass clown to still believe a particular race is superior to another. But just because no race is inherently better than the rest, it doesn’t mean there aren’t differences between us.

It’s to be expected really. These differences are million year old hand-me-downs from our ancestors; shaped by their origin in the world and evolving what they needed to survive.

Distinctions might be as obvious as skin tone, facial features or bone structure, but may also be more discreet. Our genes say.

While external traits don’t matter so much – or at least, they shouldn’t – where we differ internally is arguably crucial. These diffrences can influence our skill set and even our tendency towards certain illnesses.

So it pays to know a bit about them if you want to stay healthy or channel your energies for best performance.

Of course you can’t really talk about performance without mentioning testosterone. Which sort of begs the question, what impact, if any, does race have on our natural T levels?

Here we’ll take a look at the notable differences between the races and ask how many of them could be down to possible varying amounts of male hormone.

Sporting chance

There are fairly obvious instances of how race can affect performance in the sporting world.

Think of athletics. Particularly track events. 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, hurdles, relays etc. It would be fair to say that historically most of these competitions have been dominated by black athletes.

The reason for this is in part that studies tend to show that black people, both men and women, have slightly different physiology to whites. They usually have greater bone density and muscle mass overall, including in the arms and legs, giving them an edge when it comes to power. On land at least.

What’s an advantage in one arena can be a drawback in another.

Let’s look at swimming. There’s a sport where most elite level players are white. Why’s this? Well it’s almost the exact opposite of the track. Lower bone density and higher body fat helps make swimmers from a European background more, well, floaty.

So trying to argue over which race is better at sport is a bit like that ‘Who’d win in a fight, a tiger or a shark?’ discussion most of us have had on a slow night down the pub. It really depends on the circumstances.

Conditions apply

From a health point of view there are very few conditions which target only one race. That said, there are plenty that disproportionately affect some more than others.

Black people, stats tell us, are more prone to certain serious complaints. For example they are two and half times more likely to suffer a stroke than Caucasians and have five times the risk of diabetes. African Americans are also 50-70% more open to heart disease.

It’s probable a lot of these issues could be aggravated by what are often tougher life circumstances owing to economic disadvantage.

Most interestingly in the context of testosterone however, is black males appearing more susceptible to prostate cancer. The risk is two thirds higher than in whites or Hispanics.

This is significant because while T doesn’t trigger the illness, it can fuel progress once diagnosed. Work by the Albert Einstein Medical Centre in Pennsylvania states:

“Prostate cancer in African Americans is more aggressive and common than in any other racial group”

So is that a grim indicator of greater amounts of male hormone?

Back in black

From what we’ve heard so far, it sure sounds like a guy calling himself Mr T was only ever going to come from one community. But to check if this is really the case though, we need to stop worrying skin colour and start focusing on coat colour. What do the scientists say?

Let’s start with a 2006 investigation by the New England Research Institutes. For this, 1900 men, either black, white or Hispanic, gave a number of hormone readings. Including, total free testosterone, as well as levels DHT, SHBG and DHEA.

Free T is the amount your body is able to use. SHBG on the other hand is a protein which binds T and stops it being used. Both DHT and DHEA are building blocks for T production

The team found little difference between the races in any catagories. The only area were black subjects were a little higher was DHT. Something that wouldn’t make a massive difference to hormone output.

A trial from 4 years earlier though, which kept tabs on its black and white subjects for 8 years did show some slight differences between the races.

Researchers from Northwestern University took samples of T and SHBG levels from 1000 black or white men. They also recorded body mass and waist measurements to allow for some of the variations in physique we talked about earlier.

Results found young black men had 3% higher T than whites. However all the men’s’ levels began to drop after age 24, leading to an increase in obesity. Particularly belly fat.

As subjects aged and this excess body fat was factored in, the T advantage disappears. There’s no such gap in levels between black or white older men.

There’s good news on the prostate cancer front too.

The same Albert Einstein Medical Centre study we mentioned earlier tested 52 men over 70 to see if race played a role in important markers of the condition: Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) a protein which is low in sufferers, T and DHEA. All the men either had prostate cancer or were at risk of it due to low PSA.

The trial found was no difference in any of the markers, regardless of race. It reports no correlations between race, hormone levels or prostate health.

Things aren’t just black and white

The flip side of people assuming men of Afro-Caribbean heritage have higher T because of their physique is that of guys from an East Asian background. A typically smaller stature and less body hair means Asians are often cast as lacking male hormone compared to other races.

Human androgen receptors work on a repeating CAG cycle. The more copies it makes the lower your sensitivity to testosterone. Asians tend to have more copies than Europeans, while Africans have the least.

But how fair is this reputation?

One study from the University Of California using 1127 African-American, white, Chinese-American, and Japanese-American men claims not very. Scientists took samples of androgen levels and SHBG activity from subjects in their 60s, finding:

“After adjustment for age and Quetelet’s index (BMI) the levels of total and bioavailable testosterone were highest in Asian-Americans, intermediate in African-Americans, and lowest in whites.”

Race winner?

The truth is, it’s kind of a dead heat. Most evidence shows there really aren’t huge differences between your healthy T levels and your brother from another racial mother.

Young black guys might get out the blocks a little faster start, but over the longer term, things tend to even out. T ends up pretty much neck and neck. Even in Asian men, differences are slight if they’re there at all.

Remember too, these are trends. There’s always going to be individuals of any race who buck what the research tells us.

Bottom line, the majority of us will be within a healthy range for T regardless of our skin colour or background.

Perhaps most importantly, we can ALL benefit from boosting our natural T to the peak of that range. So to (almost) Michael Jackson, if you wanna raise T baby it don’t matter if you’re black or white…or Asian…SHAMONE! HeeHEE!


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