1. Health

Does Cancer Affect Testosterone Levels in Men?

By October 26, 2010

It's been known for a while that hormone levels drop in women treated for cancer. Now a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology is showing similar effects in older men. MSNBC Health reports:

For the new study, researchers tested more than 400 men with cancers that were unrelated to testosterone.

Nearly half the men had total testosterone levels below 300 nanograms per deciliter. The researchers didn't compare the men to a control group, but note that all other studies of men without cancer have found some percentage with lowered testosterone levels, but far less than half.

The men in the current study with low testosterone also tended to be overweight or obese, and scored slightly lower on a scale designed to measure quality of life than men with "normal" testosterone levels.

However, there are some important caveats:

  • The study was sponsored by Solvay Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures a testosterone cream. Since the study was essentially designed to identify a target market for their product, that makes the results somewhat suspect. I would like to see the results replicated by another study that's independently funded--and that includes a control group, which this study didn't have.
  • Any study examining testosterone levels will be hampered by "a lack of consensus on what constitute a normal range of testosterone levels, the well-known inaccuracy of measuring serum bioavailable testosterone levels, and the considerable interindividual variation in the degree of testosterone decline associated with age," according to this 2006 article in the International Journal of Impotence Research.
  • According to that same article, it isn't even clear whether testosterone affects prostate cancer, and if there is a connection, it's that too much testosterone increases the risk of cancer. So when the researchers say that next they're going to see whether testosterone supplementation increases the prognosis for these cancer patients, they're pretty much talking nonsense.

If you're a man who's had cancer, and you're having problems such as impotence that could be related to low testosterone levels, do consult your oncologist and maybe an endocrinologist or urologist--but don't panic.

June 27, 2011 at 6:36 pm
(1) Man Boobs says:

As if cancer wasn’t already scary enough, now this information just makes it that much worse.

September 14, 2011 at 7:14 pm
(2) Phoenix assisted living says:

Great information, thanks for your article!

September 26, 2011 at 7:58 am

There are many chronic illnesses, including cancer, that can effect a man’s testosterone levels. Testosterone supplementation is an option in some of these, but not all – for example it is usually not a good idea to give testosterone supplementation to a man with a history of prostate or breast cancer.

The only reason to give the testosterone suppplementation would be to raise the man’s libido or sex drive – it is not likely that the testosterone would help his ED or give him better erections.

There are however a number of safe ways to help men with ED, whether related to cancer or cancer treatment to get great erections.

Please visit our website for more information:


Lawrewnce A. Smiley, M.D.

November 7, 2011 at 5:50 pm
(4) a2097803 says:

I’ve said that least 2097803 times. The problem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean

December 30, 2011 at 5:33 pm
(5) currency says:

Its such as you read my thoughts! You appear to know so much approximately this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I feel that you simply can do with some p.c. to pressure the message house a little bit, however instead of that, this is fantastic blog. A fantastic read. I’ll certainly be back.

March 5, 2012 at 9:11 pm
(6) Brain Supplements says:

This is a great article. I have never gone thru cancer thank god but I can see how it affects testosterone.

Brain Supplements

June 12, 2012 at 11:26 pm
(7) Memory Supplements says:

I’ve always felt I’ve had lower testosterone. I hope I don’t have cancer too! I’ve found working out regularly helps.

Memory Supplements

June 14, 2012 at 1:42 pm
(8) Rxgs says:

When we’re young, men need testosterone for strength (making tackles) and survival (making babies). As men get older, however, the games change, and we need testosterone for other things-namely to maintain things that influence our quality of life. Unfortunately, many men suffer from testosterone deficiency.

When a man is in his twenties, his testosterone levels usually peak at 900 and 1,200 nanograms per deciliter. They decrease after that, which is probably a good thing for the planet at large. A mild decrease in testosterone might not have much of an effect on men, but a true testosterone deficiency–defined by less than 300 nanograms per deciliter-can cause many problems and should be treated.

Most seriously, testosterone deficiency has also been shown to accelerate coronary artery disease-which can be reversed with replenishment of the hormone. Other effects of low testosterone can include drops in energy, muscle strength, and sexual function.

Appropriate testosterone replacement is one option in helping restore libido, erections, and muscle strength, but there’s still research that needs to be done to determine whether replacement testosterone has a correlation with prostate cancer (speculation is that it does).

June 14, 2012 at 1:46 pm
(9) Dino says:

Testosterone peaks around age 20. After that, levels decline by about 1 percent a year. The decline is barely noticeable at first, but over the course of decades, it can add up, especially if a guy had relatively low levels of testosterone to begin with.

Below-normal testosterone levels affect at least 10 million men in the US alone. This can lead to decreased muscle mass and bone mineral density, decreased sex drive and energy, increased fat mass (especially belly fat) and depressed mood. It may also shorten your life.

July 18, 2012 at 4:19 am
(10) Shane says:

I found this on we a study by Solvay Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures a testosterone cream. Since the study was essentially designed to identify a target market for their product, that makes the results somewhat suspect. I would like to see the results replicated by another study that’s independently funded–and that includes a control group, which this study didn’t have.

January 12, 2013 at 10:49 am
(11) Martin says:

My understanding is that research shows there is little doubt that cancer and the subsequent treatments using radiotherapy significantly lower testosterone levels in men but that this can be reversed by taking amino acids like L- Carnitine and L Theaine .Does anyone here know if this is correct ?


Martin from
Brain Smart

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