Testosterone plays an essential role in human biology. It is the primary sex hormone, and testosterone levels decrease with age.
However, testosterone also has many other functions, such as increasing muscle mass, red blood cell production, and maintaining bone density.
In addition, testosterone may be associated with prostate cancer because testosterone stimulates the growth of prostate cells; however, this association does not mean that testosterone causes prostate cancer or vice versa.
Here we discuss how testosterone and prostate cancer are related and what you need to know about them.
Testosterone and prostate cancer research
Androgen deficiency is when a person’s body doesn’t have enough testosterone. This may cause decreased muscle mass, low energy, depression, and low sex drive—some men who are not old enough to have the condition get it too.
Low testosterone is associated with many other diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and obesity. These estimates vary, but LOH is common and affects 2.4 million American men over 40.
Testosterone replacement therapy is when you get injections to replace the low hormones. This has been used for many years, but it has become more popular in the last 10 years.
In the United States, the percentage of men over 40 who get prescriptions for testosterone increases each year. For example, in 2011, 3% of men got prescriptions for this, and in 2001 it was less than 1%.
The percentage is expected to go up by 400,000 per year because the number of people over 65 is increasing.
There are many risks with TRT that people don’t understand. For example, one risk is that it might increase the chance of prostate cancer.
People also don’t know if other bad things will happen when they take TRT. For example, some doctors worry about whether TRT can cause heart problems or make someone sick differently.
We should do more research to determine what’s safe and what isn’t before we give people any more of this drug called TRT, which stands for Testosterone Replacement Therapy.
There are 3 groups of people in this study. One group has prostate cancer, one group does not, and the third group is on testosterone replacement therapy. We will look at how they each react to testosterone therapy differently.
Androgens are necessary for male sexual development and prostate physiology. There are two main types of androgens in men: dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is made from testosterone in other tissues, and testosterone, which is produced by the testes.
Testosterone is attached to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) when it isn’t free. When it’s free, it’s the most bioavailable and active form.
The second trimester is when the baby’s testicles grow. Testosterone makes the epididymis, vas deferens, and seminal vesicles grow. In addition, DHT causes the prostate, urethra, and external genitalia to grow.
When babies are born, their prostate is small and immature. But during puberty, testosterone will cause more growth in the prostate, leading to benign prostatic hypertrophy (the prostate becomes enlarged).
Many men’s testosterone levels change when they get older. As a result, older adult males have less testosterone than younger men.
In the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging, 10% of 40-year-olds and 25% of 70-year-olds were hypogonadal, which means they had low testosterone levels. However, this is not always true for all people in the United States.
It is usual for people’s bodies to change as they grow older. Sometimes, men will have less testosterone than before, and they will also have more problems such as LOH or androgen deficiency in the aging male (ADAM).
Male hypogonadism can be caused by testicular or brain problems. When these things happen, the body makes less testosterone. Men with aging testes will have fewer Leydig cells and produce less testosterone.
A group of experts, including the International Society of Andrology (ISA) and the European Association of Urology (EAU,) defines LOH as a syndrome in which men have symptoms of hypogonadism.
This can cause problems like:
- declined muscle mass
- diminished energy
- depressed mood
- lowered libido
- erectile dysfunction
These are not always apparent symptoms, though. For example, in a study with 3369 men, some had these problems but did not know about their situation with hypogonadism until they went to the doctor.
The number of people with low hormone levels varies. It depends on the study and what they are looking for.
A person can be diagnosed with low testosterone levels if they have symptoms, but it is also normal for them to get lower amounts as they get older.
If someone has symptoms, that might be because their testosterone level is too low and not because they are old enough to be expected to have less.
Low testosterone and prostate cancer
A new study published in European Urology looked at whether men with low testosterone levels have a lower risk of prostate cancer. Researchers looked at blood samples taken from around 19,000 men aged 34-76 years. Unfortunately, 6,900 of these men later developed prostate cancer.
Men with low testosterone levels had a 23% reduced risk of developing prostate cancer. However, men with low levels who got cancer were more likely to get an aggressive form.
The first study that is big enough to look at whether having low testosterone levels increase the risk of developing prostate cancer has found that it likely does. However, scientists know very little about whether a man’s biology can cause them to develop prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer needs testosterone to grow. Nearly all prostate cancers that spread have overactive testosterone receptors. The standard treatment for prostate cancer is hormone therapy, which blocks or lowers the amount of testosterone in the body.
Testosterone can affect prostate cells. It is essential to know how it affects them, and the study supports the idea that when testosterone increases above a certain point, it does not increase prostate growth. Only men with low levels of the hormone may have a reduced risk of developing an enlarged prostate than men with higher testosterone levels.
Professor Tim Key says that “this is an interesting biological finding of prostate cancer.” However, more studies to find if the association of deficient levels of circulating free testosterone and reduced risk of prostate cancer is caused by detection bias or something else is needed.
Testosterone effect on prostate
Researchers in the 1940s found that when men’s testosterone levels dropped, their prostate cancer did not grow. They also discovered that giving testosterone to men with prostate cancer made their cancer grow. They concluded that testosterone promotes prostate cancer growth.
Doctors have believed in testosterone-fueled prostate cancer growth. As a result, many doctors have avoided prescribing hormone therapy to men with prostate cancer. However, new evidence tells us that this is not the case.
Recently, research has questioned the link between testosterone and prostate cancer. Studies found that men with low testosterone levels are more likely to get prostate cancer than men with higher levels of testosterone.
A study in 2016 showed that there was no relationship between a man’s testosterone level and his risk of developing prostate cancer. In addition, a review showed that testosterone therapy does not increase the risk of prostate cancer or make it more severe for men who have already been diagnosed.
According to a trusted source, in their review of the journal Medicine, testosterone replacement therapy does not increase the level of prostate-specific antigen. Prostate-Specific Antigen is a protein that is elevated in the blood of men with prostate cancer.
Evidence is lacking to know if testosterone therapy is safe for men with a history of prostate cancer. More studies are needed. The existing evidence suggests that it might be okay for some people with low testosterone who have completed treatment and are at low risk of recurrence.
Doctors were worried that testosterone therapy might cause or speed up cancer growth in the prostate.
But new research has shown this not to be true. So if you have low testosterone and it affects your life, talk to your doctor.
They can help you discuss the benefits and risks of hormone therapy, especially if you have a history of prostate cancer.
“I have the metabolism of a sloth and a body that hates putting on muscles. This curse motivated me to study weight loss and nutrition. I want to share my experiences and knowledge to help you achieve your ideal body.”— Christian Tanobey