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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1986 Jan;76(1):45-8.

Serum testosterone levels in healthy young black and white men.


Blacks in the United States have the highest prostate cancer rate in the world and nearly twice that of whites in the United States. The 2:1 black-to-white ratio in prostate cancer rates is already apparent at age 45 years, the age at which the earliest prostate cancer cases occur. This finding suggests that the factor(s) responsible for the difference in rates occurs, or first occurs, early in life. Testosterone has been hypothesized to play a role in the etiology of prostate cancer, because testosterone and its metabolite, dihydrotestosterone, are the principal trophic hormones that regulate growth and function of epithelial prostate tissue. This report gives the results of assays of circulating steroid hormone levels in white and black college students in Los Angeles, CA. Mean testosterone levels in blacks were 19% higher than in whites, and free testosterone levels were 21% higher. Both these differences were statistically significant. Adjustment by analysis of covariance for time of sampling, age, weight, alcohol use, cigarette smoking, and use of prescription drugs somewhat reduced the differences. After these adjustments were made, blacks had a 15% higher testosterone level and a 13% higher free testosterone level. A 15% difference in circulating testosterone levels could readily explain a twofold difference in prostate cancer risk.

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