HELSINKI, FINLAND. It is generally believed that male sex hormone levels play a role in the development of prostate cancer. Clinical studies aimed at elucidating this role have produced conflicting results and it is not clear whether elevated androgen (male sex hormone) levels are associated with an increased, decreased or normal risk of prostate cancer. A group of Finnish researchers recently released the results of a long-term study, which found no significant correlation between androgen levels and the subsequent occurrence of prostate cancer. The study involved 16,481 Finnish men (aged 18 to 78 years) who had blood samples drawn between 1966 and 1972. By 1991, 166 of the men had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Comparing the patients' serum levels of testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin, and androstenedione to those of 300 matched controls produced no evidence of an association between the levels of these hormones and the prevalence of prostate cancer. The researchers did notice a direct relationship between prostate cancer incidence and testosterone levels when cases occurring within eight years of the blood sampling were excluded from the analysis. This correlation, however, was not statistically significant. They conclude that high androgen levels are not associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer in Finnish men. However, they caution that racial differences may exist in this relationship.
Heikkila, Ritva, et al. Serum testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin concentrations and the risk of prostate carcinoma. Cancer, Vol. 86, July 15, 1999, pp. 312-15