Serum androgens and prostate cancer risk: results from the placebo arm of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial

Jeannette M. Schenk*, Cathee Till, Ann W. Hsing, Frank Z. Stanczyk, Zhihong Gong, Marian L. Neuhouser, Juergen K. Reichardt, Ashraful M. Hoque, William D. Figg, Phyllis J. Goodman, Catherine M. Tangen, Ian M. Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Compelling and long-standing data suggest that androgens play an important role in the development of both normal prostate epithelium and prostate cancer. Although testosterone administration can induce prostate cancer (PCA) in laboratory animals, serum-based epidemiologic studies examining androgens in humans have not consistently supported a role for androgens in prostate carcinogenesis. We examined whether pre-diagnostic serum androgens were associated with PCA risk in the placebo arm of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. Methods: In this nested case–control study, cases (n = 1,032) were primarily local-stage, biopsy-detected cancers, and controls (n = 1,025) were biopsy-confirmed to be PCA-free. Pre-diagnostic serum androgens (total testosterone, 3α-androstanediol glucuronide, free testosterone), estrogen-to-testosterone ratio, and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) concentrations were measured in pooled (baseline and year 3) blood samples. Results: We found no significant associations between serum androgens, estrogen-to-testosterone ratios, or SHBG and risk of total, low (Gleason <7) or high-grade (Gleason 7–10) PCA. Conclusion: Much remains to be learned about the role of androgens in prostate carcinogenesis. Further research is needed to evaluate the role of androgens, timing of exposure, genetic modulators of androgen metabolism, or environmental exposures that may affect androgen influence on prostate carcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Androgens
  • Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial
  • Prostate cancer


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