A new study has found that men who have high levels of the hormone testosterone are more likely to experience symptoms of prostate cancer than men who don’t.
Men with high levels, or “hyperandrogenism,” are more than twice as likely as men with low levels to develop prostate cancer, according to the study published Wednesday in The American Journal of Men’s Health.
But while the risk of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) increases with increasing testosterone levels, the effect of hyperandrogenemia on men’s disease progression and mortality is not known.
“The results are intriguing, and there is potential for a causal relationship between hyperandrogens and prostate cancer,” said Dr. J. Michael McNeil, professor of urology at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study.
“It’s possible that the hyperandrolone-driven increase in prostate cancer risk may be a consequence of the increased prostate-protective mechanisms of the prostaglandin receptor, and the prostatic-tract-related stress response that plays a role in prostate tumorigenesis,” he added.
Men’s health advocates said the finding has important implications for men and their health.
“For men with prostate cancer and their partners, this is a big deal,” said John O’Connell, a clinical research fellow at the University of Melbourne and author of The Men’s Issue: The Men Who Can and Can’t Stop Cancer.
“The hormone levels are so high that they are going to make a difference in what is happening in your body.”
But the authors of the new study cautioned that it’s still unclear whether hyperandroids cause prostate cancer.
“A lot of studies have found that the higher the testosterone, the higher are the prostate cancer rates,” McNeil said.
“We don’t know whether the higher testosterone levels are a direct consequence of increased prostate cancer incidence, or whether it’s a result of a different kind of inflammation.”
McNeil noted that men with high testosterone levels also have more testosterone-related cancers, such as prostate, breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and colorectal.
He said the most likely explanation for the elevated prostate cancer rate in men with hyperandrosigal disorders is that the condition is associated with increased inflammation, which can lead to prostate cancer in men who do not have prostate cancer or have other underlying conditions that increase their risk of developing it.
The study found that in the United States, about 1 in 7 men has hyperandroidism, while about one in 4,000 men in Europe have it.
In men with elevated testosterone levels who develop prostate cancers, hyperandrology is more common in men than in men without hyperandrologic conditions, the authors said.
In addition, the researchers said, hyper androgenism may be associated with prostate tumor progression in men.
They also noted that in a recent study of more than 200 men in the U.K., hyperandrostenedione, a marker of prostate tumor growth, was higher in men whose testosterone levels were significantly higher than men without it.
“We need to understand what is the connection between hyper androgens and these cancers, and what the pathways may be,” said McNeil.
“It’s a big question mark.
And it’s important that we understand what the relationship is between testosterone and prostate cancers.”
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