Testosterone May Contribute To Colon Cancer Tumor Growth

Testosterone May Contribute To Colon Cancer Tumor Growth
(Image source)
Previous cancer research has revealed that women are less likely than men to suffer from non-sex specific cancers such as cancer of the colon, pancreas and stomach. Scientists theorized that perhaps this trend was due to a protecting effect created by female hormones, such as estrogen, that help prevent tumors from forming. Now, researchers have found evidence suggesting that the male hormone testosterone may actually be a contributing factor in the formation of colon cancer tumors. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In the study, researchers observed normal levels of naturally occurring colon cancer in a group of male rats. They then removed testosterone from those rats and colon cancer rates decreased dramatically. After reintroducing testosterone, the colon cancer rates returned to normal.
The researchers also point to higher rates of colon cancer in post-menopausal women as potential evidence to support testosterone as a contributing agent to tumor growth. All women have some level of testosterone in their bodies naturally, but those levels typically are much lower than estrogen and other female hormones. Once women experience menopause and their female hormone levels decrease, their testosterone levels become relatively higher. This corresponds to the time when they begin to experience higher rates of colon cancer and could be a sign of a relationship between testosterone levels and colon tumor growth.
The researchers plan to continue their research by investigating the genetic traits that are responsible for the difference in susceptibility to cancer between men and women.