Oxytocin May Deter Men From Starting Extramarital Affairs






 

A new study finds that oxytocin may reduce men’s interest in other women outside of their monogamous relationships.


 

 

OXYTOCIN MAY DETER MEN FROM STARTING EXTRAMARITAL AFFAIRS

As I noted in a previous column (Oxytocin & Human Kindness), oxytocin is a hormone that appears to have a variety of important functions in humans.  For example, in new mothers, oxytocin stimulates milk secretion from the breast in response to suckling.  Oxytocin is also sometimes referred to as the “love hormone,” as it is believed to contribute to those enchanting feelings of attraction, contentment, happiness, and bonding that occur in new romantic relationships. Oxytocin has also been linked to feelings of empathy and sensitivity towards others, while low levels of oxytocin in the brain have been associated with narcissistic, manipulative, and even sociopathic behavior.

Recent revelations of marital infidelity by retired general David Petraeus, the former Director of the CIA, have focused attention on the perennial topic of married men and their predilection towards having affairs with “other” women.  Now, a new prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical research study asks (and potentially answers) the question, “Can oxytocin help to sustain monogamous attachment in men?”  This new study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

In this study, male volunteers who were involved in monogamous heterosexual relationships were administered either intranasal oxytocin or a placebo nose spray that contained no oxytocin.  These male volunteers were “blinded” with respect to which nasal spray they received.  Then, two novel experiments were performed.  In the first experiment, these male volunteers were approached by other men, and by “attractive women.”  The male volunteers were observed during these staged encounters.  Intriguingly, the males who had secretly received the oxytocin nasal spray maintained a significantly greater distance from the women when compared to the men who had received the placebo nasal spray.  (There was no difference between the two groups of male volunteers when it came to approaching other males in this study.)  A second part of this novel study placed photographs of attractive women before all of the male volunteers.  Once again, the men who had been secretly administered oxytocin were significantly more reluctant to approach the photos of attractive women when compared to the men who had received the placebo nasal spray.

To summarize the provocative findings of this unusual clinical study, men involved in a monogamous relationship, and who received a placebo nasal spray, approached unfamiliar attractive women as intently as unattached single men did.  On the other hand, men similarly involved in monogamous relationships, and who secretly received an intranasal oxytocin spray, consistently kept a greater distance from unfamiliar attractive women.  The authors of this study conclude that when “…[oxytocin] release is stimulated during a monogamous relationship, it may additionally promote its maintenance by making men avoid signaling romantic interest to other women through close-approach behavior during social encounters. In this way, [oxytocin] may help to promote fidelity within monogamous human relationships.”

Whether or not retired general David Petraeus, or other men who have engaged in affairs outside of their monogamous relationships, might have made different choices had their oxytocin levels been higher is a matter of speculation.  However, the findings of this novel clinical research study, which builds upon prior studies of the bonding and “commitment” effects of oxytocin in both men and women, suggest that boosting oxytocin levels in men may potentially reduce their inclination towards striking up new relationships with women outside of their current monogamous relationships.  It also suggests that men who have engaged in serial infidelities outside of their marriage, and who wish to change this pattern of behavior, might benefit from intranasal oxytocin, although more clinical research should be performed before offering men intranasal oxytocin as a potential treatment for serial infidelity.


A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race is now available in both printed and digital formats from all major bookstores.  Get your copy now, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle!


Dr. Wascher’s latest video:

Dark as Night, Part 1


Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1



At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is now more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.




Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, 2,017,594 pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 



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Oxytocin Gene Variations May Determine Kindness

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A new clinical study has found that our level of empathy and compassion may be determined by the oxytocin receptor gene, and that even strangers can detect which version of this gene we possess.



OXYTOCIN GENE VARIATIONS MAY DETERMINE KINDNESS

A fascinating new study reveals how profoundly our genetic make-up can influence not only our personality and behavior, but the perceptions that others (including strangers) may have of us, as well.  This new research study appears in the journal,Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Oxytocin is a hormone that appears to have a variety of functions in humans, particularly in pregnant women and new mothers.  Oxytocin plays very important roles in labor and, following delivery, in the stimulation of milk secretion from the breast in response to suckling.  However, the biological effects of oxytocin are not limited to pregnant women and new mothers.  Oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone,” as it is thought contribute to the feelings of contentment, happiness, and bonding that typically occur in the early stages of romantic relationships.  Oxytocin has also been, more generally, linked to feelings of empathy and sensitivity towards others, while syndromes associated with little or no oxytocin production in the brain have been, conversely, associated with narcissistic, manipulative, and even sociopathic behavior.

As with most genes in the body, the gene which produces the oxytocin receptor (which is necessary for oxytocin to exert its effects within the body) has multiple different natural forms.  Some forms of the oxytocin receptor gene have been shown to increase the positive effects of oxytocin, while other variants of the oxytocin receptor gene appear to decrease the favorable effects of oxytocin.  In this fascinating study, researchers first tested 46 research volunteers to determine which variant of the oxytocin receptor gene was present in their bodies.  Next, these 46 volunteers were grouped into 23 pairs, in which one volunteer was asked to tell the other volunteer about a stressful or otherwise difficult experience in their life.  (These discussion sessions were videotaped for the second part of this research study.)  Subsequently, volunteer observers, none of whom knew the oxytocin receptor gene status of the other 46 volunteers, were then asked to watch the videotaped discussions, and to rate the 46 other volunteers in terms of empathy and kindness.

The findings of this innovative clinical research study were striking.  In the vast majority of cases, the “observer volunteers” watching the videotaped discussions could accurately select out the “discussion volunteers” who had the “AA” variant (which is associated with decreased levels of empathy and compassion) and the “GG” variant of the oxytocin receptor (which is the variant that has been most closely associated with the “empathy and kindness” effects of oxytocin).  While nobody is suggesting that our genetic make-up completely dictates our personality or behavior, the findings of this intriguing clinical research study suggest that, at least in the case of the oxytocin reception gene, naturally-occurring variations in our genetic make-up may, indeed, have a potentially profound impact on personality and behavior.  Even more provocative is the finding that, in the case of the oxytocin gene receptor, even casual observers are able to select out other people who possess a specific genetic variant with a high degree of accuracy, simply by assessing their interactions with others.  Once again, it is important to note that having a single specific form of one or more genes does not entirely predict an individual’s personality or behavior.  However, in the case of the oxytocin receptor gene, it appears that even strangers can readily identify which among us has the more “pro-social” variant of this gene, simply by observing how we interact with other people!


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-Million,Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month. (More than 1.2 million health-conscious people visited Weekly Health Update in 2010!) As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 


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