Sunday 14 April 2019

The testosterone and Human Growth Hormone supplementation culture: "It will have to be paid for... and trouble will come of it"

It has become very popular for middle aged (and older) men to take male hormone supplements - testosterone or, by preference, human growth hormone (HGH).

Especially HGH (taken by injection) has a powerful effect of slimming, increasing mucle definition, and causing a 'rejuvination' in terms of drive and energy. Hence it has become all-but universal among mass media 'leading men' actors, stunt men - and more generally (I heard a local tradesman discussing his growth hormone usage in a cafe).

And for most people, the only 'problem' with HGH supplementation is the cost - about 40 dollars per day.

But as the Shire Hobbits said about Bilbo's apparently perpetual youth (after he obtained The Ring), when it comes to hormone supplementation the rule would seem to be: "It will have to be paid for... It isn't natural and trouble will come of it!"

I state this firstly on general evolutionary principles. Firstly, all masculinising ('androgenic') hormones tend to shorten life and increase the risk of many diseases, especially cancers. This is mostly why men are shorter lived than women.

In general, only those men who have the 'best' genes (least deleterious mutations) and are healthiest, can survive and thrive despite high levels of androgenic hormones. This is probably why the masculinised man is more physically attractive to women - under natural conditions, signs of masculinisation (and of higher male hormone levels) are a Honest Advertisement of genetic fitness.

This is a version of Zahavi's Handicap Principle - by successfully overcoming the health handicap of high testosterone, the male with good genes is able (honestly) to advertise his high quality.

Aside: In the natural world - indeed until the last few generations; the physical attractiveness of men to women was of only modest importance in terms of sex. Partly because sex was largely confined to marriage, marriages were mostly arranged and was a matter of survival; so economics was life and death.

So, absent modern corruption by the fake-peer-group of the mass media, most women are not that interested in men's looks. 

The current cult of masculine attractiveness - body-building, hormone enhancement, shirtless selfie poses etc; and the attempted youthful appearance from fashion, hair dye and plastic surgery; seemingly comes from established practices in homosexual culture, spreading to affect men more generally.
Conversely, if a man with poor genetic fitness had high androgenic hormones, the average deleterious effect on his health and longevity would suffice to reduce his overall fitness. So genetically unfit men with excessive testosterone, for example, would leave behind fewer offspring, on average and under ancestral conditions.

So, a modern man who artificially enhances his masculine traits by taking androgenic supplements would be expected - on average - to reduce his reproductive success - due to health problems or early death.

(Unless modern conditions are sufficiently different from ancestral to negate this - and such may be the case. It is commonplace for modern people to survive for long periods with disorders and disabilities that used to be rapidly fatal. So androgenic supplements may make modern men less healthy, but this may not cause an increased mortality rate.) 

We should, of course, note that mainstream modern men do not care about leaving behind viable offspring, and indeed generally try to avoid doing so. They (apparently) care only about having sex and not at all about reproduction. So a predicted reduction in average reproductive fitness does not matter to them; it would not affect their decision.

Another consideration is that you can't get something for nothing, and every advantage will have to be paid-for. Especially, you cannot boost a hormone and expect it to be overall beneficial.

After all, the human body is easily capable of secreting a lot more more testosterone or growth hormone than the average level. That would not be a problem.

If more testosterone, or GH was a clear benefit to a man, then why does not the body just secrete more of the hormone? The fact that it does not, implies that to do so would, overall, be a disadvantage. And this implies that androgenic hormone supplementation will produce a net disadvantage - one way or another.

But, again, modern secular men do not really care about the long term; and will typically do anything that benefits them here and now, and for the next few months. Their lives have no transcendental meaning, they believe their the soul does not exist, and that consciousness is extinguished at death.

The natural conclusion is that the sureness of a short and pleasurable life here-and-now outweighs any long term probabilities of harm.

It is also relatively a male feature to take opportunities of sex 'now', to be short-termist and promiscious about sex - because a man who has a lot of sex with a lot of women as a young man might (under ancestral conditions) be expected to out-reproduce the average man.

In principle, a short and sexually promiscous life could be reproductively beneficial to men - while being a disadvantage to women (who benefit more from having fewer genetically high quality offspring and rearing each optimally). 

(Although the extremely high death rates of infants and children of 'single mothers' in tribal societies might negate this substantially or wholly - so promiscuous men might sire many children, but have no surviving offspring.)

In conclusion, on the whole, I would fully expect the use of masculinising sex hormone supplementation to be associated with significant long term harm to health and functionality, and a reduced lifespan.

But I recognise that - in a world of hedonic materialism - this fact cuts little or no ice.

In a world where there is no God and no consciousness beyond biological death; in a world where maximising pleasure and minimising suffering is the entire, bottom line, morality; then sex often becomes - by default - the most powerful motivator.

And any-thing that plausibly increases the probability of more sex with more - and more attractive - women; is likely to be popular among the mass of mainstream hedonic materialists; no matter what other problems it may cause.



Adil said...

Great post. The gym culture has always put me off. Bodybuilding seems like an insane sport, but is encouraged and cherished among young men today. I don't think God intended for us to pump and eat ourselves as big as possible as fast as possible. How can we ever really appreciate food if we stuff ourselves full all the time? Bodybuilding seems to be designed to 'keep up' with the modern world and to 'look good' in it. Self worship and exhibitionism is what modern bodybuilding seems to advocate. But I don't think men become necessarily 'strong' or manly in gym factories, through fast-food muscle growth (which looks unnatural anyway). I tend to favor body exercises and stamina when training, to build up strength and endurance over time, rather than getting 'ripped for next summer', as if the body was a machine to be used? My training motto is 'pray for peace, prepare for war', rather than over-pushing my body 'keep up with the Joneses'. Being overly self conscious about looks is not a masculine thing.


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Well, dandyism was a thing long before the modern media and gayification. I'm currently reading the memoirs of Casanova, and he certainly cared about his looks. I guess the difference is that in the past no one thought of such concern a mark of masculinity.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - It was recognised from the early modern period (1500s-ish), and is explicit by the 17th century, that effeminacy is *sexually* attractive to some women. So this is about sex, not marriage; indeed sex as *opposed to* marriage.

But I think that what we have now is 'Hollywood' masculinity, where Hollywood is taking the role of a women's peer group. Women are attracted to whatevcer they perceive the peer group of 'other women' finds attractive.

This varies by society - eg hunters, chiefs, good singers or dancers in tribal times... nowadays the mass media says (inter alia) Hollywood leading men actors; who have a cartoon superhero torso and arms that can (with very few exceptions, mainly among the West African descended, and not among middle aged men) *only* be attained by use of drugs - especially HGH and a touch of insulin.