Saturday, January 5, 2019

Competitive Hormone Supplementation Is Shaping America’s Future Business Titans

There is some research that the drop in population-wide testosterone levels—not sperm count, mind, but the big T—has effects that go as far as political biases and preferences. I'll ask some endocrine-focused poli sci types for pointers.

Here's Palladium Magazine, January 1 with one angle on what's up:
There’s a natural, hormone-mediated life cycle to a businessman’s career: when he’s young, he goes for broke (and often goes broke). He borrows big, fights hard, doesn’t take no for an answer, and builds up an empire. In middle age, the business still expands, and the CEO’s waistline expands, too; he’s more content with steady growth, and doesn’t feel a need to do anything especially revolutionary. As he slows down, so does the business; retirement is a blessing.

All this closely tracks levels of testosterone: in addition to its well-known effects on variables like muscle mass and body hair, testosterone affects personality. People with higher levels of testosterone are more willing to take risks. They’re more assertive. There’s a reason little old ladies rarely die in hang gliding accidents or get hospitalized for eating too many Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and it’s not just cultural. Testosterone levels are higher for men. They typically peak in a man’s early 20s, and decline steadily through their adult life.
Two forces have upended this dynamic:
  1. Across a wide spectrum of the male population, testosterone levels are falling. Precipitously. Testosterone levels are declining at about 1% per year, which is pretty close to the annual pace of decline for a given man after age 20. No one is entirely sure why: perhaps comfortable modernity suppresses testosterone production. Perhaps we’re less physically active and more obese. Then there’s the cultural changes we’re less likely to think about. After all, declining cigarette consumption plays a role—nicotine boosts testosterone levels. Or maybe there’s something in the water.
  2. Meanwhile, testosterone supplementation is a booming business. No longer the province of bodybuilders (well, no longer solely theirs), it now goes by the name Testosterone Replacement Therapy. For a modest payment, your MD can give you a vial of the same stuff Arnold was injecting to win Mr. Olympia.
TRT is not cheap, and finding a doctor who is willing to diagnose you with low testosterone is not as easy as it could be. I, personally, haven’t indulged.

But it appears that many people have. The number of TRT patients in the U.S. tripled from 2001 through 2013. And doctors are willing to prescribe doses that, while reasonable for a younger man, are excessive for a middle-aged or older one. Doctors can also connect the discriminating patient with sources of Human Growth Hormone (effects: higher muscle mass, lower body fat, faster injury recovery—all good for maintaining high natural testosterone levels).

This is an open secret in the fields of sports and entertainment. How does a man in his late thirties add a few inches to his biceps over the summer? How does a party-going fifty-something actor still have a six-pack that would be the envy of a frat boy on Spring Break? The answer is a vial in his medicine cabinet.

(I don’t mean to imply that drugs alone can get you an amazing physique. You still have to work out. But in one of nature’s cruel jokes—or gifts to the diligent—the extra ambition and energy from higher levels of testosterone tends to lead to more workouts. It’s a cruel truth for fat men: if you’re too lazy to go to the gym, it’s because you haven’t been going to the gym.)
But playing hormonal games isn’t just for actors and athletes any more. Executives do it, too. I don’t have access to anybody’s confidential medical records, and I wouldn’t tell you if I did. But probably a few of these guys are juicing:
  •       Jeff Bezos has apparently aged roughly negative five years since founding He used to look like the kind of dweebie guy who would spend hours in Wikipedia edit wars about Michael Bay movies; now he looks more like the Terminator.
  •       Elon Musk also used to look like a sickly, pale guy. He’s not adonis these days by any means, but it’s clear he’s working out. And maybe more.
  •       Sergey Brin has stayed in pretty solid shape for a middle-aged guy. He’d probably still be able to seduce subordinates several decades his junior sans physique, but would he have bothered?
  •       He’s no longer in the saddle, but Henry Nicholas of Broadcom seemed to enjoy some extra chemical assistance. At least, that would explain his reputed habit of waking up at three in the morning to blast metal and do deadlifts. It would also explain why he was doing this in his enormous underground sex dungeon.
What’s interesting about these characters is that they aren’t just staying physically youthful. They’re also maintaining a young person’s monomaniacal zest for world domination. Jeff Bezos is growing Amazon at a breakneck startup pace, and seems to treat the entire business as being engaged in de facto trench warfare with anyone who sells anything to anyone. What is “Your margin is my opportunity” if not a declaration of war on anyone with higher profit margins (AMZN net margin in 2017: 1.7%) or a higher cost of capital? (AMZN cost of capital: close enough to zero for our purposes).

Musk tends to engage in such responsible hobbies as tweeting on LSD; giving unrealistic production estimates; working twenty-hour days to meet them; starting various feuds with the financiers who float his businesses, the regulators who could shut it down, and Thai cave divers.

Musk and Bezos, by the way, are engaged in a private space race to see who can shoot rockets the farthest. As it has been since the days of JFK and Khrushchev, this is clearly a contest to see who is more hyper-masculine.

Bezos, Musk, and Brin don’t just look young. They act young.

I suspect that it’s because, hormonally, they are young. They may have the same level of rambunctious combativeness they did when they were quitting jobs and risking it all in their twenties, because, physiological terms, they’re still in their twenties.
Can this continue?

Not indefinitely. Eventually, high doses of testosterone lead to blood pressure problems and premature heart attacks. But we know this because bodybuilders have been helpful guinea pigs, at much higher doses. So we know that if you’re jacking your T levels to 50% above peak human levels for years on end, you’ll have a hard time making it past 50. We don’t know what keeping moderately elevated testosterone levels does to someone, and my guess is that on net it’s positive. Many of the health problems we associate with middle and old age are lifestyle problems; middle-aged people get diabetes and heart issues because they’re less active, and they’re less active because they don’t have Vitamin T telling them to go do laps in the pool or grind out some squats. Certainly, moderate testosterone supplementation increases most men’s healthspan, especially given the precipitous drop in male testosterone levels over the past few decades....MUCH MORE
As noted in the intro to 2017's "Amazon Is Pure Madness: It's Going to Destroy Almost Every Industry Alive and It Must Be Stopped, Bezos Denies Being Satan's Minion":

"I ain't nobody's bi...minion" a remarkably buff Bezos was overheard saying.