Some Animal Research Suggests that High Testosterone May Increase Prostate Cancer Risk

Posted by Dr. Michael White, Updated on May 21st, 2024
Reading Time: 5 minutes

A new study was recently released in the journal, Endocrinology, which provides evidence that Testosterone is associated with cancer risk in rats when rodents are exposed to chemicals that are known carcinogens. For this reason, the lead researcher of the study believes that men should be extremely wary of taking Testosterone without an established clinical need.

Testosterone is experiencing a surge in popularity like never before, as a means to enhance sexual function, combat fatigue, increase muscular strength, and improve body composition. Men all across the country and the world have experienced the benefits of Testosterone for Low-T, but many men seek Testosterone that has no clinical need for treatment.

A survey by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism discovered that the number of men on Low-T Treatments with Testosterone increased fourfold since the year 2000. In addition to that, new research in recent years suggests that Testosterone Therapy may be associated with an increased risk of dangerous heart conditions.

Could Heart Risks Be Exaggerated?

Taking Testosterone alone does appear to have some heart and cardiovascular risks associated with it, but further investigation strongly suggests that these risks can easily be mitigated through the responsible use of Estrogen Blockers and other preventative measures.

The primary reason why Testosterone leads to these risks is that Testosterone is associated with a simultaneous increase in Estrogen Levels because the male body produces Estrogen from Testosterone. Estrogen Blockers work by suppressing this conversion, keeping Estrogen at healthier levels while still providing the heart- and body-wide benefits that Testosterone can provide.

A second reason why Testosterone can increase the risk of heart problems is that it increases activity in the bone marrow, which encourages the production of Red Blood Cells, which increases the density of the blood, which can lead to issues related to clotting and high blood pressure in sensitive individuals. By donating blood regularly, it is possible almost wholly to negate this risk.

Testosterone Therapy Guidelines

The Endocrine Society establishes medical guidelines regarding Hormone Replacement Therapy, and they suggest that only men with clinically low Testosterone Levels should be approved for therapy. In addition to having low Testosterone Levels, they should also be suffering from symptoms related to that condition, including Hypogonadism, Erectile Dysfunction, and low libido.

How Serious Could the Testosterone-Prostate Cancer Risk Be?

The lead investigator for this animal research study is Dr. Maarten Bosland, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Based on this research, it appears that Testosterone itself does not lead to cancer-causing activity, but, in the presence of carcinogens, Testosterone can increase the odds that tumors develop. In the end, Dr. Bosland considers Testosterone a mild carcinogen.

Testosterone Cancer Study Specifics

In this study, four groups of rats were studied. Two groups of rats received Testosterone via an implantable device, two groups of rodents received an injection of a potent carcinogen, and one group remained completely clean. The type of lab rats used were Wister Unilever Rats, which are designed specifically for animal research. All rats retained their own ability to produce Testosterone.

In one group, researchers exposed the rats to a particular carcinogen known as N-nitroso-N-methyl urea (MNU). The second group received Testosterone but were not exposed to this carcinogen. The third group received no Testosterone, nor were they exposed to MNU. The fourth group, finally, were exposed to MNU but did not get Testosterone.

By comparing and contrasting the four groups, it is possible to see how much that Testosterone amplifies the carcinogenic effects of this cancer-causing agent.

What is MNU?

MNU is a chemical that is incredibly carcinogenic and leads directly to significant genetic damage, which reliably causes cancer in animal species. It is almost exclusively used for research purposes, so long-term human exposure is negligible. However, it is strongly assumed that the chemical is highly carcinogenic in humans as it is in other species.

Testosterone-Prostate Cancer Results

In the group which received Testosterone but were not exposed to MNU, 10 to 18 percent of the rats ended up experiencing prostate cancer. The use of Testosterone did not lead to a definite increase in tumors in any particular area of the rodent body. Still, these rats did experience an increase in cancer rates as compared to rats, which received no Testosterone at all.

On the other hand, when rats received Testosterone while being exposed to MNU, it led to a significant increase in Prostate Cancer, between 50% and 71%. Testosterone increased Prostate Cancer Risk in combination with MNU even when rats were treated with a very low dose of Testosterone, too low even to alter Serum Testosterone Levels. Rats that received a very low dose of Testosterone, as described, experienced a 50% increase in Prostate Cancer risk. The rodents that were exposed to MNU did not experience an increase in Prostate Cancer risk.

This means that Testosterone increases the carcinogenic activity of MNU upon the prostate and that, without Testosterone, MNU has no meaningful effects on the prostate, despite being highly carcinogenic in other respects.

Why is this Information Important?

The body of evidence regarding the potential causal link between Testosterone and Prostate Cancer is incomplete and necessitates research. The effects of Testosterone upon Prostate health are not fully understood at this time, mainly because Testosterone Replacement is a relatively newly-developed medical treatment, and Prostate Cancer is a very gradual disease that progresses over many, many years.

To date, there is no clinical evidence that Testosterone Therapy contributes to Prostate Cancer. Still, until the scientific data is complete on the subject, it would be prudent to recognize the potential risk.

In particular, Dr. Bosland believes that this data provides evidence that men without Low-T should not use Testosterone Treatments, including Testosterone Creams, Gels, and Injections, because these potential risks are heightened by having Testosterone Levels which are artificially high.

This data also shows the importance of living a healthy and conscientious lifestyle while taking Testosterone or other forms of Hormone Replacement Therapy, because limiting one's exposure to cancer-causing agents potentially increases the safety profile as well as the effectiveness of treatment.

At least for now, Testosterone Therapy should only be used by those that need it. Testosterone Supplementation can indeed be a game-changer for men that are suffering from issues related to Testosterone Deficiency and Low-T. Still, men should not use Testosterone merely as a mechanism to counteract aging itself, or for bodybuilding or performance enhancement.

Testosterone is not an Anti-Aging Treatment, but for men with Low-T, it can mitigate many symptoms that suppress male health and wellness that are commonly associated with aging.

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