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Cancer Causes Control. 2013 Apr;24(4):817-26. doi: 10.1007/s10552-013-0154-8. Epub 2013 Jan 25.

Racial/ethnic differences in serum sex steroid hormone concentrations in US adolescent males.

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Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.



Contrary to the hypothesis that the racial/ethnic disparity in prostate cancer has a hormonal basis, we did not observe a difference in serum testosterone concentration between non-Hispanic black and white men in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), although non-Hispanic black men had a higher estradiol level. Unexpectedly, Mexican-American men had the highest testosterone level. Next, we evaluated whether the same patterns are observed during adolescence, the time of prostate maturation.


We measured serum testosterone, estradiol, and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) by immunoassay in 134 males aged 12-19 in NHANES III. Mean concentrations were compared by race/ethnicity adjusting for age, Tanner stage, percent body fat, waist, physical activity, tobacco smoke, and the other hormones.


After multivariable adjustment, in the 12-15-year-old males, testosterone concentration was lower in non-Hispanic blacks than whites (p = 0.043), SHBG concentration did not significantly differ between the two groups. Mexican-Americans had the highest testosterone (versus non-Hispanic black: p = 0.002) and lowest SHBG (versus non-Hispanic white: p = 0.010; versus non-Hispanic black: p = 0.047) concentrations. Estradiol concentration was lower in non-Hispanic blacks (p = 0.11) and Mexican-Americans (p = 0.033) compared with non-Hispanic whites. After multivariable adjustment, in the 16-19-year-old males, testosterone, estradiol, and SHBG concentrations did not differ between non-Hispanic blacks and whites. Mexican-Americans had the highest testosterone concentration (versus non-Hispanic white: p = 0.08), but did not differ from the other groups on estradiol and SHBG concentrations. In both age groups, these patterns were generally present, but less pronounced after adjusting for age and Tanner stage only.


In adolescent males, non-Hispanic blacks did not have a higher testosterone concentration than non-Hispanic whites, and Mexican-Americans had the highest testosterone concentration, patterns similar to adult males.

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