What is the role of hormones in the etiology of prostate cancer?

Updated: Oct 11, 2019
  • Author: Mark A Moyad, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Prostate cancer is considered to be one of the cancers influenced by the hormonal environment. Perturbations in the sex steroids seem to play an important role in the genesis of prostate cancer, as they do in breast cancer. A higher body mass index (BMI) has been shown to be associated with lower serum levels of testosterone and sex hormone–binding globulin and with higher levels of estradiol. Serum levels of androstenedione are decreased, but the peripheral conversion of androstenedione to estrone and estradiol is increased.

The increase in BMI and change in hormone status could shift the human body into a pro-inflammatory state, which also could be a cause for concern. In addition, the potentially large reductions in testosterone that can occur with weight gain could provide a partial androgen deprivation akin to the androgen deprivation therapy used for advanced prostate cancer. While in the short term this could reduce the risk of an incident prostate cancer, in the long term it could increase the risk of aggressive disease. [31]

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