Circulating sex hormones in relation to anthropometric, sociodemographic and behavioural factors in an international dataset of 12,300 men

PLoS One. 2017 Dec 27;12(12):e0187741. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187741. eCollection 2017.


Introduction: Sex hormones have been implicated in the etiology of a number of diseases. To better understand disease etiology and the mechanisms of disease-risk factor associations, this analysis aimed to investigate the associations of anthropometric, sociodemographic and behavioural factors with a range of circulating sex hormones and sex hormone-binding globulin.

Methods: Statistical analyses of individual participant data from 12,330 male controls aged 25-85 years from 25 studies involved in the Endogenous Hormones Nutritional Biomarkers and Prostate Cancer Collaborative Group. Analysis of variance was used to estimate geometric means adjusted for study and relevant covariates.

Results: Older age was associated with higher concentrations of sex hormone-binding globulin and dihydrotestosterone and lower concentrations of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, free testosterone, androstenedione, androstanediol glucuronide and free estradiol. Higher body mass index was associated with higher concentrations of free estradiol, androstanediol glucuronide, estradiol and estrone and lower concentrations of dihydrotestosterone, testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin, free testosterone, androstenedione and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate. Taller height was associated with lower concentrations of androstenedione, testosterone, free testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin and higher concentrations of androstanediol glucuronide. Current smoking was associated with higher concentrations of androstenedione, sex hormone-binding globulin and testosterone. Alcohol consumption was associated with higher concentrations of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, androstenedione and androstanediol glucuronide. East Asians had lower concentrations of androstanediol glucuronide and African Americans had higher concentrations of estrogens. Education and marital status were modestly associated with a small number of hormones.

Conclusion: Circulating sex hormones in men are strongly associated with age and body mass index, and to a lesser extent with smoking status and alcohol consumption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry*
  • Behavior*
  • Datasets as Topic*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Class*
  • Young Adult


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones

Grant support

Centralized pooling, checking and data analysis was supported by Cancer Research UK grants C8221/A19170 and C8221/A20986 ( Details of funding for the original studies are in the relevant publications (see Subjects and methods section for individual study details). These include: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development, National Institutes of Health and Department of Health and Human Services, grant number: HHSN275201100020C; California Department of Public Health as part of the statewide cancer reporting program mandated by California Health and Safety Code Section 103885; the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program awarded to the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, grant number: HHSN261201000140C; the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program awarded to the University of Southern California, HHSN261201000035C; National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program awarded to the Public Health Institute; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Program of Cancer Registries, grant number: HHSN261201000034C; the California Department of Public Health, grant number: U58DP003862-01; the Cancer Research Fund, under Interagency Agreement #97-12013 (University of California contract #98-00924V) with the Department of Health Services, Cancer Research Program, UM1 CA182883; the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (grant numbers CA167552, CA055075, CA133891, CA141298, CA09001, CA131945, CA34944, CA40360, CA097193), National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (grant numbers HL26490, HL34595) and the Hellenic Health Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.