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Testosterone and Prostate Cancer: Is There Truly a Connection?

There is a lot of conflicting data about the connection between prostate cancer and testosterone levels. For a very long time, it was believed that elevated blood testosterone can cause or aggravate existing prostate cancers. And indeed, there were a lot of studies performed in history that had shown similar conclusions.

The foremost of these was the research done by Charles B. Huggins of the University of Chicago. He had won a Nobel Prize for his work correlating high testosterone level with prostate cancer. It is interesting to know the origin and details of this study.

Huggins’ study on testosterone

Prostatic diseases such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) (non-cancerous increase in size of the prostate) and prostate cancer are noted very commonly in males after the ages of sixty, although infrequent early manifestations are seen occasionally. Huggins noted that apart from human beings, dogs experienced BPH very frequently. He saw that castration of such dogs had been successful in treating the condition.

And as castration was then almost exclusively connected with reduction in testosterone levels in the 1950s, Huggins tried to apply the same principle for his studies as well. His sample size was about 50 and he found that 45 of these patients had experienced an aggravation of symptoms when concurrently being treated with testosterone.

But there were many other factors in this study that were only recently observed. One of them was that Huggins’ patients were taking strong chemotherapeutic drugs as well for the cancers. These could have accounted for unfavorable reactions. And the heavy dosages mentioned in the study indicated that the tumors shown by these patients were inherently resistant to treatment; thus their intransigence to testosterone or subsequent growth may not have been related to testosterone at all.

Moreover, almost all of the men showing unfavorable results in Huggins’ trial had been previously subjected to chemical castration or estrogen injections to suppress testosterone. This has led many modern scientists to believe that the lowered testosterone levels prior to the testosterone supplementation may have been the factor behind the intractability of the tumors.

What are the implications of connecting testosterone and prostatic cancer?

When Huggins had published his study, it was a jolt for all practitioners who were treating their patients with testosterone replacements. It indicated that those individuals that were at risk for prostatic cancers should neither be supplemented with hormones artificially nor be given natural remedies for increasing testosterone. This meant that such patients, even if they were showing symptoms of low testosterone, should not be treated for it.

The other side of the coin

As stated earlier, there were many flaws in Huggins’ study. The prior treatment with testosterone reducing drugs puts the studies a very different perspective. This also led researchers to argue the correlation between the emergence of prostatic cancer and the time when the body undergoes gradual reduction in testosterone levels. Thus, many scientists conducted studies on the effect of lowered testosterone levels and cancer and found a very strong connection.

It is true that castration had helped dogs with BPH, but BHP is not the same as prostate cancer. The similarities that Huggins found between slides of canine and human prostates may have been a coincidence or have had other factors involved in it that were unnoticed by him, And benign prostatic hyperplasia can easily be treated by removal of the prostate, a treatment option that does not always work with prostatic cancer.

The implications of the new assessment on prostatic cancer

The newer studies have indicated that low testosterone levels may have been one the causes behind prostate cancer and that the artificial testosterone supplementation was just a bystander. This would mean that males (with and without prostate cancer) should benefit from hormone replacements or testosterone boosting practices.

This conclusion is completely the reverse of what Higgins had believed.

What can be safely concluded from these studies?

Well, the results of the above mentioned studies are ambivalent; or ambiguous at best. Due to this many physicians and surgeons refuse to change the protocol they use to treat their patients who have prostatic cancer. They await for concrete proof before they modify a treatment method they know works best. And their prudence is indeed justified; a clear connection between low testosterone and incidence of prostate cancer has not been established yet.

And hormone replacements cannot be treated lightly. There is more than enough evidence stating the ill effects of unnecessary testosterone supplementation (testosterone control via herbs and vitamins that are contained in Spartagen XT ingredients is a different matter). You should only consider undergoing such treatment only if it is absolutely necessary; and there are indeed cases when it is necessary. But when other treatment options are at hand and they can be availed, they should be. It is important to keep in mind that hormone replacements have to be continued all throughout life and this can be a big commitment and a large factor determining health and well-being.

None of the studies have said anything against natural methods to augment testosterone. These methods can help avoid tedious and expensive hormone replacements and they have not been linked to prostate cancer. Naturally attained normal levels of testosterone seem to be the need of the hour; it is always best to keep away as many artificial chemicals away from the body as possible.

Prostatic cancer is extremely common in males, yet there is very little known about it in comparison to the other types of cancers. It is best to neither blame testosterone for their occurrence nor consider it a cure against them until more information is available; stick to natural testosterone boosters.