Having Large Testicles May be linked to Cardiovascular Disease Italian Study Shows

Perhaps it is best not to brag about being too big. An Italian study found an association between testicle size and cardiovascular risk. The larger the male gonads are, the greater the impact on heart health.

Orchidometer

Orchidometer used to measure the volume of the testicles. Image Courtesy of Filip Em.

When it comes to male characteristics, men tend to overestimate themselves. While a recent study has shown that penis size can be a factor in women’s choice, large testicle size is often associated with good health. However, a study by researchers from the University of Florence could dispel this belief. These scientists found that men with larger gonads are more likely to have an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases.

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Cardiovascular disease at crisis levels

At the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century, the world started to face an unprecedented crisis of cardiovascular diseases. They have even become the leading cause of death in developed countries. It is true that cardiovascular diseases did not only emerge with the modern age. But our current lifestyle is exacerbating the phenomenon: obesity, one of the risk factors, is reaching unprecedented levels leading to diseases such as diabetes, and cancers which are associated with it.

For a long time, it was assumed that men were more likely than women to suffer from cardiovascular diseases due to their behavior (especially smoking) and their testosterone levels. Cardiovascular diseases in women were very rare before menopause because of the protective effect of estrogens. Ironically hormone replacement therapy after tends to increase the risk of heart disease in women. A study recently published in Global Heart even showed that women today die more frequently from cardiovascular disease than their male counterparts. The end of a popular misconception.

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At the same time, it is often assumed that testicle size is an indication of a man’s reproductive quality. Developed sexual characteristics are often even correlated with good health. However, a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine provides contradictory evidence.

Testicles size and Heart health

Italian scientists measured the size of the testicles of 2,809 men with an average age of 51 years who came to the clinic for erectile dysfunction. 1,395 of these men were followed over a period of 7 years.

In patients with larger testicles, the risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases such as obesity, smoking, or high blood pressure were more prominent. In addition, the same men had a higher risk of being hospitalized. In general, the greater the volume of the gonads, the greater the risk.

Similarly, luteinizing hormone secretions (LH), which are synthesized by the hypothalamus to stimulate testosterone production in the testicles, have been associated with cardiovascular disorders. The more LH a person produces, the greater the risk to their heart.

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Mario Maggi and his colleagues tried to explain their findings with the following hypothesis. Obesity and diabetes are known to lower testosterone levels. In response, the body excretes more LH, which will place demands on the testicular cells. This process may cause male gonads to become larger. There may therefore be no causal relationship. However, LH is still suspected because of its possible effects on the cardiovascular system.

It should be noted, however, that the announcement does not meet with the unanimous approval of the experts. The American urologist Andrew Kramer of the University of Maryland explains in the columns of Live Science that he has difficulties to believe these results and this hypothesis. For him, there is an experimental prejudice: All participants came because of erectile dysfunction and thus health problems. He believes that these conclusions cannot be generalized to the entire male population. It remains to be seen whether this is really a major problem.

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References

Why Large Testes May Be a Sign of Big Heart Problems

Relationship of testis size and LH levels with incidence of major adverse cardiovascular events in older men with sexual dysfunction

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