Testosterone And The Danger It Poses For Prostate Cancer In Elderly Males

December 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer

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Testosterone is one of those hormones in the male endocrine system that have been implicated as causal risk factors in the development and progression of prostate cancer; the other main chemicals that share this insinuation are dehydroepiandrosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

Generally in the study of cancer, it has been found that several forms of cancer have tumors that proliferate by the aid of such hormones in the human body. Specifically, it has been found that breast cancer and ovarian cancer in females is contributed to by the female sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and gonadotropin, while the male reproductive sex endocrines contribute to heighten prostate carcinoma risk. As such hormonal therapy aims at lowering the amount of such hormones in the body so that the cancers can shrink. For prostate cancer, this kind of treatment targets the pathways the body uses to produce DHT, which may on the long run cause an increase in the production of testosterone over a couple of weeks and then suddenly halt it.

No one really knows what causes prostate cancer – all we have are risk factors for the disease: diet, genetics, diet, lifestyle, medications; however, prostate cancer is not the most common cancer in elderly men and the second most common cause of cancer-related death in men in the United States for no reason. Obviously the fact that the hormone level in the elderly differs greatly from when they are still younger has something to do with it: the fact that the hormones are not used in the same capacity, thereby being available for the melanomas to use as fuel for their progression.

In any case, American Nobel laureate Charles Brenton Huggins won his award by carrying out experiments and observing elevated levels of the testosterone in the presence of prostate cancer. By removing the testes, which supplied the hormone, he Huggins observed that the malignancy stopped growing or actually receded. He also made a number of other observations in additions to that, including the fact that prostate cancer often stopped growing as well when estrogen was administered.

Cancer cells are not always self-sustaining, and prostate cancer specifically is known to require the testosterone hormone to fuel its growth. First, low blood levels of DHT stimulate the hypothalamus to produce gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH), which stimulates the pituitary gland to produce luteinizing hormone, which in turn causes the testicles to produce testosterone, and the testosterone then works with dehydroepiandrosterone to produce more DHT.

Elderly males are especially in danger of prostate cancer of this nature because of their lowered immunity; and if this manages to couple with any number of other risk factors of prostate cancer, their risk of carcinoma is that much increased. Hormonal therapy to tackle testosterone secretion can decrease levels of DHT by interrupting the endocrine production pathway at any point, and hence stopping the growth of the tumors.

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