Now some good news for a change: new research has found that men with very low amounts of free testosterone in their bloodstream are much less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Low Hormone Levels = Low Risk Levels?
Testosterone is, of course, a human hormone tied to men’s reproductive health. Testosterone levels in men naturally decline slightly after age 30, but there are a number of problems associated with excessively low testosterone such as erectile dysfunction.
However, for men with free circulating testosterone in the bottom 10th percentile of the population, there seems to be a silver lining: these patients saw a 23 percent reduction in prostate cancer risk compared to patients with higher levels of the hormone in their blood.
The scope of this study was large, as it took data from 20 previously-researched past studies with more than 6900 cases of prostate cancer. There were an additional 12,000 controls included in this new meta-study as well, providing some large sample sizes indeed. The age range for participants was likewise varied, with the youngest being 33 and the oldest being 76. On average, the time between collecting blood samples from patients and diagnosis of prostate cancer was 6.8 years.
While the study found strong evidence that low testosterone levels seem to provide a reduced risk for cancer diagnosis, researchers were quick to stress that more research will be needed in the future. However, the way low testosterone can influence prostate growth is clear, as there have been documented instances of abnormally low testosterone levels which may act to decrease prostate growth.
A Mixed Bag
The new revelation is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to men’s health. Low testosterone may help in inhibiting prostate tumor growth, though there’s certainly no guarantee. Additionally, extremely low testosterone levels do bring their own health issues that may need to be dealt with by patients. There are hormone replacement therapies for male patients who find that their low testosterone levels are interfering with physical development, for instance in the case of delayed puberty, though these are, perhaps, extreme cases.
Meanwhile, if very low testosterone does provide an insulating effect from prostate cancer, in some ways the pain and discomfort of suffering from low testosterone certainly outweigh the possibly life-threatening diagnosis of an aggressive prostate cancer.