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Testosterone helps build muscle, but can promote prostate cancer

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By David Liu, PHD

Monday July 23, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Using testosterone preparations or supplements can boost a man's prostate cancer risk, according to a new study published online May 18 in the medical journal Urology.

The study led S. Albisinni of "La Sapienza" University in Rome, Italy and colleagues showed men who had the highest ratio of free testosterone to total testosterone were more likely to develop high-grade prostate cancer, compared to those who had the lowest ratio even though the ratio was not associated with low-grade prostate cancer.

Low-grade prostate cancer was defined as having Gleason score of equal to or smaller than 6 while high-grade prostate cancer was defined as having Gleascore of equal or greater than 7.

For the current study, the researchers analyzed data from 812 white Italian men with no history of prostate cancer who underwent 12-score biopsy.  Blood samples were tested to measure testosterone, free testosterone and %FT (free testosterone/total testosterone). 

Men whose %FT was in the highest tertile were found almost 100 percent more likely to be diagnosed with high grade prostate cancer, compared to those who had their %FT in the lowest tertile.

The researchers said most studies have suggested that the absolute serum testosterone and free testosterone levels are not associated with prostate cancer risk.  

A health observer suggested such studies do not make any sense.  Saying testosterone does not boost prostate cancer risk is like saying that estrogen does not boost breast cancer risk.

Prostate cancer is expected in 210,000 men in 2012 in the United States and the disease will kill about 50,000 men in the U.S. this year.

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