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Chen et al,1 using a nationally representative sample of the US population from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III (NHANES III), intriguingly suggest infection with Helicobacter (H) pylori may have positive health effects in addition to a causal role in gastric cancer. H pylori has a long history of coexistence with humans. Research on the human microbiome has also highlighted the symbiotic relation of gut microorganisms with their hosts. Animal biology suggests immune defence trades-off against reproductive success such that infections suppresses androgens.2 Correspondingly, changing the gut microbial environment in mice changes mice testosterone levels.3 The same mechanisms may also apply to humans, particularly at older ages when the immune system is less effective. H pylori could modulate androgen production and thereby affect health because androgens, and similarly endocrine disruptors, may play a role in chronic diseases.
Two androgen biomarkers (serum testosterone and androstanediol glucuronide (3-α-diol-G) (AAG)) were assayed for a male subsample (12+ years) from NHANES III who …