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Melanoma linked to high testosterone in men

Thursday April 1st 2021

There may be a link between high levels of testosterone in the blood and increased risk of melanoma in men, according to a new analysis.

In the largest study of its kind to date, Oxford University scientists analysed UK Biobank data on testosterone in about 182,000 men and 122,000 postmenopausal women.

Although their findings support known links between testosterone and prostate cancer in men, and breast and endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women, they also found for the first time an association between testosterone and melanoma in men.

The details are published in the International Journal of Cancer.

Lead author Dr Eleanor Watts said: “This is the first time a link between testosterone and skin cancer has been seen. We already knew men diagnosed with melanoma have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer and vice versa, which was a clue that there may be a common biological or behavioural cause. And it looks like this link might be the hormone, testosterone.

“The next step will be to see whether this link is seen in other studies, and if it is, to look more closely at why testosterone might be related to the risk of melanoma developing in men.”

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “Further research is still needed, but large studies like this could shift our fundamental understanding of skin cancer and help identify people who are at increased risk.

“In the meantime, with lockdown rules starting to lift and the promise of more time outside with friends and family, we should all continue to stay safe in the sun especially if you burn easily. Spending time in the shade, covering up with clothing, and using plenty of sunscreen all help to protect our skin.

“It’s still very important that anyone who has noticed any unusual change on their skin, gets in touch with their GP. And if it’s tricky getting an appointment, do keep trying.”

Watts EL, Perez Cornago A, Knuppel A et al. Prospective analyses of testosterone and SHBG with risk of 19 types of cancer in men and postmenopausal women in UK Biobank. IJC 15 March 2021;


Tags: Cancer | Dermatology | Men's Health | UK News

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