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Testosterone Boosters & Prostate Cancer Risk (Science-Based)

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: December 3, 2021

Testosterone is the hormone responsible for muscle mass, deep voice, and maturity of sex organs in males.

It peaks around adolescence, and testosterone levels start declining after the age of 30. Around this time, a lot of men consider testosterone replacement therapy or testosterone boosters.

But, since prostate cancer is so common nowadays, many men wonder if testosterone boosters can cause prostate cancer.

I checked all the scientific research done on the matter and consulted with a medical professional. Here’s what you should know if you’re concerned about testosterone treatment developing prostate cancer.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • Once men turn 30, testosterone levels start dropping below the normal range, so men turn to testosterone boosters.
  • In the past, it has been believed that testosterone therapy can contribute to prostate cancer. 
  • Recent studies claim that exogenous testosterone can be beneficial in preventing and fighting prostate cancer.

Testosterone Supplements and Prostate Cancer

man holding a pill in one hand and a glass of water in his other hand

Let’s go back to 1940. At this time, researchers found that when testosterone levels in men went down, prostate cancer stopped growing.

On the other hand, scientists concluded that giving testosterone hormone therapy to men with cancer made cancer grow. It was concluded that testosterone promotes prostate cancer.

For a long time, it’s been believed that testosterone boosters cause different side effects, such as blood pressure elevation, growth of prostate cancer in high-risk men, excessive hair growth, and more.

However, this has been challenged in the last decade.

A study from 2015 completely contradicts this belief, and it claims that men with low T levels have a higher risk of prostate cancer. [1]

A review from 2015 found that testosterone replacement therapy doesn't increase prostate-specific antigen, which is a protein that’s elevated in men with prostate cancer. [2]

Also, a meta-analysis from 2016 found no connection between men’s testosterone levels and the risk of developing prostate cancer. [3]

Finally, one clinical trial done on 19,000 men concluded that men with low testosterone levels have a low risk of prostate cancer growth and that high testosterone levels don’t mean there’s a high risk of cancer growth.

However, they concluded that if men with low levels of testosterone develop cancer, there are higher chances of it being aggressive. [4]

“This research gives us some important clues about the role that testosterone might play in triggering prostate cancer. It’s particularly interesting that men in this study with the lowest levels of the hormone were less likely to get prostate cancer, but if they were diagnosed, it was more likely to be aggressive.” - Dr. Matthew Hobbs, Deputy Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK 

Based on the latest research, we can conclude that testosterone boosters and androgen replacement therapy is safe to use and can lower the chances of prostate cancer, or at the very least, make it not aggressive.

Testosterone Supplements and Men in Early Stage of Prostate Cancer

close up image of a man with his hands on his pants

I’ve talked about what the research says for testosterone boosters and men who have low T levels.

But, what about a man who is a prostate cancer patient?

There’s still not enough evidence to know for sure if testosterone boosters are safe for men with prostate cancer risk or a history of prostate cancer.

However, the existing evidence suggests that testosterone supplementation is safe for men with low T levels.

This is especially true if they have completed prostate cancer treatment and there’s a low chance of cancer recurrence [5].

One review of studies published so far found that hormone therapy doesn’t increase the risk of cancer if men are given supplemental testosterone, nor does it make cancer worse in men who are already diagnosed. [6]

We can conclude that taking testosterone boosters won’t badly influence men who have prostate cancer.

Denmeade, a prostate cancer expert and a professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says that some clinical trials have found that testosterone can be used to get rid of prostate cancer.

With androgen deprivation therapy — when the testosterone supply is cut off — cancer cells will stop growing for a time until they find a way around this and grow again. This is because, over time, cancer cells become resistant to certain drugs used to treat metastatic cancers.

Testosterone has been found to remove this resistance, so the drugs used to treat cancer can work more effectively. [7]

If you're looking for the safest and best testosterone supplements on the market, check out our article.

Causes of Prostate Cancer

Now that you know testosterone and prostate cancer aren’t strictly related, in the sense that a testosterone booster can cause prostate cancer, some other factors put men in the increased risk of prostate cancer category:

  • Age — The older you get, the higher the risk of cancer. The current median age of men with prostate cancer is 66. [8]
  • Family history — Check your family members’ medical records. If you have even one relative with prostate cancer, you’re twice as likely to have it too. It is because of the genes and lifestyle that family members share.
  • Diet — If you’re eating a lot of high-fat, processed, and food rich in carbohydrates, research suggests you are at a higher risk of prostate cancer.
  • Race — African-American men have more chances of having more aggressive prostate cancer.

How to Reduce the Risk of Prostate Cancer

man showing his salad and biceps

There are several things you can do to make sure you’re in the low-risk prostate cancer category:

  • Eat healthy — eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat and full-fat dairy products, as these stimulate cancer cells growth.
  • Eat a lot of fish — fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which lower the risk of cancer.
  • Don’t smoke — smoking is linked to different kinds of cancer, including prostate.
  • Control your weight — a mass body index higher than 30 increases cancer risk. If you’re recently gained weight, consider taking a blood test.

Should You Use Testosterone Therapy?

If you’re having symptoms of low testosterone, such as sexual dysfunction, decreased libido, low energy, low bone density, or muscle loss, you should consider testosterone therapy.

Before starting testosterone therapy, consult a doctor, especially if you’re at an advanced age.

Testosterone therapy can cause side effects such as blood clots and heart attacks, so you should have a doctor check your testosterone level and prescribe treatment, especially if you have a history of prostate cancer.

While more research is needed to know the connection between testosterone boosters and prostate cancer, recent research has been positive.

It shows there’s nothing to fear, especially if you take trustworthy testosterone boosters.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4647137/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25621688/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26779889/
  4. https://news.cancerresearchuk.org/2017/11/04/low-testosterone-levels
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19863857/
  6. https://www.europeanurology.com/article/S0302-2838(15)01213-0/fulltext
  7. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.3010563
  8. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/about/key-statistics.html

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