Prediagnostic circulating sex hormones are not associated with mortality for men with prostate cancer

Eur Urol. 2014 Apr;65(4):683-9. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2013.01.003. Epub 2013 Jan 11.


Background: Sex hormones play an important role in the growth and development of the prostate, and low androgen levels have been suggested to carry an adverse prognosis for men with prostate cancer (PCa).

Objective: To examine the association between prediagnostic circulating sex hormones and lethal PCa in two prospective cohort studies, the Physicians' Health Study (PHS) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS).

Design, setting, and participants: We included 963 PCa cases (700 HPFS; 263 PHS) that provided prediagnostic blood samples, in 1982 for PHS and in 1993-1995 for HPFS, in which circulating sex hormone levels were assayed.

Outcome measures and statistical analysis: The primary end point was lethal PCa (defined as cancer-specific mortality or development of metastases), and we also assessed total mortality through March 2011. We used Cox proportional hazards models to evaluate the association of prediagnostic sex hormone levels with time from diagnosis to development of lethal PCa or total mortality.

Results and limitations: PCa cases were followed for a mean of 12.0±4.9 yr after diagnosis. We confirmed 148 cases of lethal PCa and 421 deaths overall. Using Cox proportional hazard models, we found no significant association between quartile of total testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), SHBG-adjusted testosterone, free testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, androstanediol glucuronide, or estradiol and lethal PCa or total mortality. In subset analyses stratified by Gleason score, TNM stage, age, and interval between blood draw and diagnosis, there was also no consistent association between lethal PCa and sex hormone quartile.

Conclusions: We found no overall association between prediagnostic circulating sex hormones and lethal PCa or total mortality. Our null results suggest that reverse causation may be responsible in prior studies that noted adverse outcomes for men with low circulating androgens.

Keywords: Androgens; Mortality; Prostate cancer; Sex hormones; Testosterone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Survival Rate


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones