Sources of variance within and among young men in concentrations of 17β-estradiol and testosterone in axillary perspiration
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The most potent estrogen, 17β-estradiol (E2), and its precursor, testosterone (T), play critical roles in mammalian reproductive processes. Evidence indicates that these steroids are present in bioactive form in the excretions of many male mammals. It has been demonstrated that small lipophilic steroids such as E2 can be absorbed by proximate females from male excretions, arriving in the uterus, brain, and other organs where there are estrogen receptors. We took repeated samples of axillary perspiration from men aged 20-30years during vigorous exercise. Both steroids were consistently measurable, with concentrations that ranged from values comparable to those in facial perspiration and urine of both men and women to values that greatly exceeded concentrations observed in any other substrate of men and women. Inter-individual variance in axillary E2 was positively correlated with the extent of intimate experience with women, as assessed by a questionnaire, but unrelated to subjective measures of stress, exercise habits, or phytoestrogen content of diet. In addition, higher levels of axillary E2 were observed in participants when samples were collected by a female (as compared to a male) experimenter. These data are concordant with an hypothesis that male excretion of sex steroids could exert pro-reproductive influences on proximate females.
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