Free Testosterone Drives Cancer Aggressiveness: Evidence from US Population Studies

Shohreh Shahabi, Shiquan He, Michael Kopf, Marisa Mariani, Joann Petrini, Giovanni Scambia, Cristiano Ferlini*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cancer incidence and mortality are higher in males than in females, suggesting that some gender-related factors are behind such a difference. To analyze this phenomenon the most recent Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database served to access cancer survival data for the US population. Patients with gender-specific cancer and with limited information were excluded and this fact limited the sample size to 1,194,490 patients. NHANES III provided the distribution of physiologic variables in US population (n = 29,314). Cox model and Kaplan-Meier method were used to test the impact of gender on survival across age, and to calculate the gender-specific hazard ratio of dying from cancer five years following diagnosis. The distribution of the hazard ratio across age was then compared with the distribution of 65 physiological variables assessed in NHANES III. Spearman and Kolmogorov-Smirnov test assessed the homology. Cancer survival was lower in males than in females in the age range 17 to 61 years. The risk of death from cancer in males was about 30% higher than that of females of the same age. This effect was present only in sarcomas and epithelial solid tumors with distant disease and the effect was more prominent in African-Americans than Caucasians. When compared to the variables assessed in the NHANES III study, the hazard ratio almost exactly matched the distribution of free testosterone in males; none of the other analyzed variables exhibited a similar homology. Our findings suggest that male sex hormones give rise to cancer aggressiveness in patients younger than 61 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere61955
JournalPloS one
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 24 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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