Men generally have an inherent performance advantage over women due to their average greater height and muscle mass and power, as the result of correspondingly different exposures to androgens. Therefore, it is considered fair that in sports men and women compete in separate categories. The question now emerging is whether reassigned transsexuals can compete in fairness with others of their new sex. The pertinent question is how far the previous effects of testosterone in male-to-female transsexuals (M-F) are reversible upon androgen deprivation so that M-F have no advantage over women, and, vice versa, what the effects are of androgen exposure in female-to-male transsexuals (F-M) on variables relevant to competition in sports. Before puberty, boys and girls do not differ in height, muscle and bone mass. Recent information shows convincingly that actual levels of circulating testosterone determine largely muscle mass and strength, though with considerable interindividual diversity. This study analyzed the effects of androgen deprivation in 19 M-F and of androgen administration to 17 F-M on muscle mass, hemoglobin (Hb) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Before cross-sex hormone administration, there was a considerable overlap in muscle mass between M-F and F-M. In both M-F and F-M, height was a strong predictor of muscle mass. Androgen deprivation of M-F decreased muscle mass, increasing the overlap with untreated F-M, but mean muscle mass remained significantly higher in M-F than in F-M. Androgen administration to F-M increased muscle mass without inducing an advantage over nontreated M-F. The conclusion is that androgen deprivation in M-F increases the overlap in muscle mass with women but does not reverse it, statistically. The question of whether reassigned M-F can fairly compete with women depends on what degree of arbitrariness one wishes to accept, keeping in mind, for instance, that similar blood testosterone levels in men have profoundly different biologic effects on muscle properties, rendering competition in sports intrinsically a matter of how nature endows individuals for this competition.
LJ Gooren and MC Bunck
EJ Duschek, LJ Gooren and C Netelenbos
OBJECTIVE: To explore effects on serum lipids, pituitary-gonadal axis, prostate and bone turnover of the administration of the mixed oestrogen agonist/antagonist raloxifene in healthy elderly men. PARTICIPANTS: Thirty healthy men aged 60-70 years randomly received raloxifene 120 mg/day (n=15) or placebo (n=15) for 3 months. MEASUREMENTS: In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, serum gonadotrophins, sex hormones, prostate specific antigen (PSA), a marker of bone turnover, urinary hydroxyproline (OHPro) and cholesterol were measured at baseline and after 3 months. RESULTS: Raloxifene significantly increased serum concentrations of LH and FSH (by 29% and 21%), total testosterone (20%), free testosterone (16%) and bioavailable testosterone (not bound to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG; 20%). In parallel with testosterone, 17 beta-oestradiol also increased by 21%. SHBG increased by 7%. Total cholesterol (TChol) decreased significantly, from 5.7 to 5.5 mmol/l (P=0.03). Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c) showed a trend to decrease. Overall, there was no change in urinary OHPro/creatinine ratio as a marker for bone resorption. However, the raloxifene-induced increases in both serum testosterone and 17 beta-oestradiol were significantly related to a lower OHPro/creatinine ratio. Total PSA increased by 17% without significant changes in free PSA or free/total PSA ratio. Participants reported no side effects and raloxifene was well tolerated. CONCLUSION: In healthy elderly man, raloxifene 120 mg/day for 3 months increased LH, FSH and sex steroid hormones. Potentially beneficial effects were the small but significant decrease in TChol and the trend towards a decrease in LDL-c. Negative effects were the trend towards a decrease in HDL-c and the significant increase in serum PSA. A decrease in markers of bone resorption during raloxifene treatment was found only in men with relatively high increases in serum testosterone and 17 beta-oestradiol. Overall, there were no clear beneficial effects of administration of raloxifene to ageing men in this preliminary investigation.