A latest study, published in the journal Nature Medicine reveals that a high level of male sex hormone increases the risk of metabolic diseases such as cancer and type 2 diabetes in women while minimizes it in men. According to scientists, genetically higher levels of testosterone put a woman at the risk of having endometrial and breast cancer. In men, a higher level of testosterone often leads to prostate cancer.
These findings are the result of the largest study to date on genetic regulation of sex hormones levels. The study is published in Nature Medicine. Researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge and the University of Exeter led this study.
The research team showed that genetic factors involved in triggering the metabolic diseases were different for both sexes. To study this, they used Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in 425,097 UK Biobank participants. They used it for identifying the 2,571 genetic variations that are linked with changes in sex hormones levels ((testosterone) and its binding protein known as sex hormone-binding globulin (SHGB).
In additional studies, their genetic analyses were verified Such as Twin UK and EPIC-Norfolk study. Researchers said they are highly agreed with the results.
Next, they used a different technique called Mendelian randomization. This approach is typically used to understand the association between sex hormone levels and metabolic diseases. It uses the genetic changes that occur naturally to show whether the association between the disease and testosterone level is correlative or causal.
If a woman has genetically higher levels of testosterone then she has 37 % more chances for type 2 diabetes and 51% more risk for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The higher levels of testosterone in men minimize the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14% rather it increases the risk of prostate cancer in men. Women with higher levels of testosterone are at greater risk of having breast and endometrial cancers.
Dr. John Perry who is the senior researcher at the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge said, our findings revealed the fact that women who have higher levels of testosterone are at greater risk of developing PCOS. Instead of focusing on the consequences of the diseases it is important to fully understand the basic role of testosterone that causes metabolic disorders at higher levels.
Many therapies are used to treat higher levels of testosterone in men to prevent them from developing prostate cancer. But still, it not clear whether the low level of testosterone is preventive against prostate cancer. These findings help to understand the benefits and harmful aspects of hormone therapies.
Dr. Katherine Ruth, from the University of Exeter, is the lead author of this study. She says that although these findings it is easy to better understand the impacts of testosterone level on the disease. Men and women both should be considered separately in studies as both sexes show different effects regarding diseases and are triggered by different factors. The protective measures should be taken while using testosterone supplements because more studies are needed to verify the levels of testosterone for other diseases such as cardiovascular disorders.