Testosterone Levels and Risk of Prostate Cancer: What's the Connection?

The role testosterone plays in prostate cancer has been researched for decades. A 1941 study seemed to indicate that men with prostate cancer actually saw regression of their cancer when their testicles were removed and testosterone production thereby ceased.

But what if you don’t have prostate cancer – is having higher or lower testosterone at any stage of life potentially a risk factor for developing it?

In 2018, researchers attempted to answer this question by studying if changes in men’s testosterone levels were predictive of prostate cancer risk. The 1941 study (and many others trying to find links between prostate cancer and testosterone levels) used only a single measurement in time, whereas the 2018 study measured testosterone levels over time to see if and how they changed, and if changes predicted prostate cancer risk.

The study found that it is the amount of decline expressed as a percentage that was predictive of increased prostate cancer risk. In other words, if your testosterone level declines by a large percentage over time, versus declining gradually, your prostate cancer risk is lower.

The later in life men’s testosterone levels dropped below 12.1 nmol/L, the lower their incidence of prostate cancer.

The study concluded that having uneven testosterone levels over time, seeing levels drop significantly in a relatively short period of time, or having testosterone levels drop earlier in life, all contribute to heightened prostate cancer risk.

It’s possible that in light of these concerns, having a stable and adequate level of testosterone throughout life may be a way to prevent prostate cancer onset.

For further information, consult the original research here:

The Effect of Castration, of Estrogen and of Androgen Injection on Serum Phosphatases in Metastatic Carcinoma of the Prostate

Dynamic Patterns of Testosterone Levels in Individuals and Risk of Prostate Cancer among Hypogonadal Men: A Longitudinal Study

Endogenous and exogenous testosterone and prostate cancer: decreased-, increased- or null-risk?

Androgens and androgen receptor signaling in prostate tumorigenesis

Prevalence of incidental prostate cancer: A systematic review of autopsy studies

Racial Differences in Age-Related Variations of Testosterone Levels Among US Males: Potential Implications for Prostate Cancer and Personalized Medication

Serum androgen concentrations in young men: a longitudinal analysis of associations with age, obesity, and race. The CARDIA male hormone study

Association between age‐related reductions in testosterone and risk of prostate cancer—An analysis of patients' data with prostatic diseases