Testosterone and Prostate Cancer

16 02 2011

Historically, testosterone was thought to cause prostate cancer. In fact, if your testosterone level is low, your doctor may still believe that giving you bioidentical testosterone will lead to cancer and he or she may caution you against it. It’s very important to understand the current research regarding hormones and prostate cancer. A recent meta-analysis of 18 prospective studies examined the relationship between hormones and prostate cancer risk. Overall, data from nearly 4,000 men with prostate cancer and more than 6,000 control subjects (men without prostate cancer) was pooled. No association was seen between the risk of prostate cancer and levels of testosterone, free testosterone, or dihydrotestestosterone (DHT). In addition, there was no association with other hormones such as androstenedione, estradiol, or free estradiol.
Curiously, some studies have shown an association between low testosterone levels and prostate cancer. , In addition, other studies have reported that low testosterone levels are associated with more aggressive prostate cancers (advanced pathological stage and higher Gleason score). –

A recent pivotal study strongly suggests that testosterone supplementation does not lead to prostate cancer. In this study, 44 men with late-onset hypogonadism (low testosterone) were randomized to receive testosterone or placebo for 6 months. Prostate biopsies were performed prior to the study to rule out prostate cancer and to determine tissue levels of testosterone and DHT (dihydrotestosterone—the potent metabolite of testosterone) within the prostate gland itself. After six months, the 40 men who completed the study underwent repeat biopsies. Although testosterone treatment led to normal serum testosterone levels (median serum testosterone at baseline was 282 ng/dl versus 640 ng/dl after 6 mos), no significant changes were reported regarding levels of testosterone or DHT in the prostate, and no changes associated with prostate cancer were found.

Prostate cancer prevention

As you now know, one man in six will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime, and the risk increases with age. Most men with prostate cancer do not die from the disease. Prostate cancer may be preventable by following these guidelines:

• Eat more than two servings of lycopene rich foods per week (e.g., tomatoes, carrots, watermelon, and papaya).

• Include at least five servings of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens, cabbage) in your diet every week.

• Keep meat consumption to a minimum (especially charred, barbequed, or processed meat).

• Avoid excess dairy products and saturated fat.

• If you’re overweight or obese, commit to a weight-loss plan. Men who gain a significant amount of weight after age 21 have a higher risk for prostate cancer.

• Supplement with vitamins E and D, selenium, and fish oil.

In Health

Dr. Kathryn Retzler