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Evolution in Health and Disease$
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Stephen C. Stearns and Jacob C. Koella

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199207466

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199207466.001.0001

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How hormones mediate trade-offs in human health and disease

How hormones mediate trade-offs in human health and disease

(p.77) Chapter 7 How hormones mediate trade-offs in human health and disease
Evolution in Health and Disease

Richard G. Bribiescas

Peter T. Ellison

Oxford University Press

Trade-offs between reproduction and maintenance can compromise health. Male hormones such as testosterone regulate energy allocation between reproductive effort and survival; this is made evident when immunological challenges cause changes in reproductive hormones. Female hormones adjust energy allocation between investment in ovarian function, somatic investment, and present offspring (lactation), implementing trade-offs between present and future reproduction. Metabolic hormones respond to environmental cues to sequester or liberate energetic resources such as glucose and fat. Mismatch between environmental conditions and the expression of metabolic hormones are likely to underlie variation in obesity and diabetes. Lifetime variation in endogenous reproductive hormones suggests a trade-off between early benefits for reproduction and later costs against survivorship expressed in population differences in the incidence of reproductive tumors, such as breast and prostate cancer.

Keywords:   hormones, life history trade-offs, testosterone, leptin, aging

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