Testosterone makes us stronger, happier, and smarter. It also makes us meaner, more violent and more selfish. A scientific look into the vast and unexpected influence testosterone has on our behavior, our society, and our bodies.
The brain of every man—and every woman—is shaped by this tiny molecule from before birth: it propels our drive for exploration and risk, for competition and creation, and even our survival. The effects of testosterone permeate the traditions, philosophy, and literature of every known culture—without it, the world would be a drastically different place.
Testosterone also has a role in humanity's darker side, contributing to violence, hubris, poverty, crime, and selfishness. Recent revelations of the science of testosterone show that high levels will deplete compassion and generosity, and even reduce the affection we show our children.
In The Virility Paradox, internationally renowned oncologist and prostate cancer researcher Charles Ryan explores this complex chemical system responsible for a diverse spectrum of human behaviors and health in both men and women. Ryan taps his vast experience treating prostate cancer with testosterone-lowering therapy, observing that this often leads to profound changes in the patients' perspectives on their lives and relationships. Often, for the better.
Ryan uses the journeys of these patients and others to illustrate the vast and sometimes unexpected influence testosterone has on human lives. Through the stories of real men and women, he also explores the connections between testosterone and conditions like dementia, autism, and cancer, as well as the biological underpinnings of sexual assault and the effects it has on everything from crime to investing to everyday choices we make.
Integrating the molecular and the medical, sociology and storytelling, The Virility Paradox;offers a fascinating look at how one hormone has shaped history, and the connections between our biology, our behavior, and our best selves.
About the Author
Charles J Ryan, MD, is The Thomas Perkins Distinguished Professor of Clinical Medicine and Urology at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Ryan earned a BA in Philosophy, magna cum laude from Marquette University where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He attended the University of Wisconsin Medical School. He trained at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He is the Program Leader for genitourinary medical oncology at UCSF and is Chair of the UCSF Committee on Human Research, which oversees the ethical conduct of research on humans at the institution. He serves as co-chair of the National Cancer Institute’s Prostate Cancer Task Force and the leader of the Advanced Prostate Cancer Cadre in the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, a national clinical trials group.
Dr. Ryan’s research focuses on the development of new treatments for advanced prostate cancer and he has published over 100 articles and chapters in the world’s leading medical journals including the New England Journal of Medicine. In addition, he was the principal investigator for the development of Abiraterone acetate, a treatment now considered a standard of care in advanced prostate cancer. It has been administered to over 200,000 patients worldwide. Dr. Ryan is the cofounder of the Supportive Therapy in Androgen Deprivation (STAND) program at UCSF, a program which seeks to integrate physical activity, nutrition, and emotional support for men receiving hormonal therapy for prostate cancer and their partners.
“The Virility Paradox by Charles Ryan, MD, is a marvelous, timely and fun book about testosterone and behavior in men and women. This is a must read for parents, teachers, doctors, psychologists and everyone interested in gender.”
—Louann Brizendine MD, neuropsychiatrist, author of The Female Brain and The Male Brain
“Charles Ryan has written a unique, easy to read medical commentary on the paradoxes of testosterone. Anyone wanting to learn about the scientific basis of puberty, crime, behavior or prostate cancer will want to read this fascinating book written by one of our nation’s most outstanding academic physicians.”
—Stanley Prusiner, MD, director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases at University of California, San Francisco, Nobel Laureate in Medicine, and author of Madness and Memory
“Fascinating! Ryan is a doctor and professor but also a natural scientist . . . The Virility Paradox is a book of remarkable scope, for this hormone plays a role in every human drama—in sickness and health and in aging; in sex and power; morality and politics; in how we think and how we behave. With unforgettable stories to complement his extensive scientific research, Ryan has us not only rethinking all our ideas about masculinity but what it is to be human.”
—Jena Pincott, author of Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy and Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes?: The Science of Love, Sex, and Attraction
“A terrific read. Dr. Ryan writes with grace, wit, and insight on a topic that touches on nearly every aspect of our society. Highly recommended.”
—Dr. Kelly Parsons, author of Doing Harm and Under the Knife and Professor of Urology at the University of California, San Diego