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Testosterone and socioeconomic position: Mendelian Randomization in 306,248 men and women participants of UK Biobank

By Sean Harrison, Neil M Davies, Laura D Howe, Amanda Hughes

Posted 07 Nov 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.06.20226944

Men with more advantaged socioeconomic position (SEP) and better health have been observed to have higher levels of testosterone. It is unclear whether these associations arise because testosterone has a causal impact on SEP and health. In 306,248 participants of UK Biobank, we performed sex- stratified genome-wide association analysis to identify genetic variants associated with testosterone. Using the identified variants, we performed Mendelian randomization analysis of the influence of testosterone on socioeconomic position, including income, employment status, area-level deprivation, and educational qualifications; on health, including self-rated health and BMI, and on risk-taking behaviour. We found little evidence that testosterone affected socioeconomic position, health, or risk-taking. Our results therefore suggest it is unlikely that testosterone meaningfully affects these outcomes in men or women. Differences between Mendelian randomization and multivariable-adjusted estimates suggest previously reported associations with socioeconomic position and health may be due to residual confounding or reverse causation.

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