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The bones and hormones of deep water divers and pilots of high performance aircraft
  1. W H JAMES
  1. The Galton Laboratory, University College London
  2. Wolfson House, 4 Stephenson Way
  3. London NW1 2HE, UK

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    I have hypothesised that paternal hormone concentrations around the time of conception partially control the sex ratio (proportion male) of resulting offspring. Low concentrations of the testosterone/gonadotropin ratio are associated with subsequent daughters.1 Such low offspring sex ratios have been reported by operators of high performance aircraft2-4 and deep water divers.5 6 In accordance with my hypothesis, low testosterone/gonadotropin ratios in men have been reported in association with changes in gravitation (as are experienced by operators of high performance aircraft)7 8 and strongly suspected in association with changes in atmospheric pressure (as are associated with deep water diving).9 10 It is now clear that high performance aircraft pilots are at increased risk of degenerative lesions of the cervical spine11 and that deep water divers are also subject to skeletal degeneration.12 13 Low testosterone concentrations are an established risk factor for osteoporosis and bone fractures in men.14 15 So I suggest that the suboptimal bones of men in these two forms of occupation (deep water diving and operating high performance aircraft) are, at least partially, hormonally mediated consequences of these forms of occupational exposure. The point should be investigated.

    Moreover the hormone profile of a low testosterone/gonadotropin ratio is established as associated with many illnesses in men16as is exposure to deleterious chemicals—for example, the nematocide DBCP17 and dioxin18—and to non-ionising radiation.19 So the question arises: what is the medical importance of this hormone profile in men who are in the workforce or who are serving members of the armed forces and who seem to be clinically well? Does it indicate immunological compromise?

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