Compiled By Markson Omagor
Men with higher levels of testosterone may be at higher risk of developing skin cancer, a new study has warned.
The research, published in the International Journal of Cancer, confirmed previously-known links between testosterone and prostate cancer in men, and breast and endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women.
However, the paper also states that for men ‘higher total and free testosterone concentrations were associated with an increased risk of malignant melanoma’.
While the reason for the link remains unclear, the researchers hope their findings could be used to help identify people who are at greater risk from the disease.
It adds: ‘The association with melanoma [skin cancer] is novel and warrants further investigation.’
The study, which involved 182,600 men and 122,100 postmenopausal women in the UK Biobank, is the largest of its kind and was funded by Cancer Research UK.
Melanoma skin cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, with about 16,200 people diagnosed each year, the charity said.
In the last decade the number of cases in men has increased by almost half (47 per cent), it added.
Dr Eleanor Watts, lead author, 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.’
While the reason for the link remains unclear, the researchers hope their findings will encourage further research.
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.’
The findings come shortly after a study found that having high levels of the hormone testosterone can make men less generous and more likely to exhibit selfish behaviours.
Psychologists from China and Switzerland measured the brain activity of men while they completed a task involving deciding between generous and selfish options.
The team found that men who had been given additional testosterone three hours before completing the task tended to select the more selfish options.
Furthermore, the testosterone was found to dampen activity in a region of the brain which is known to be involved in the consideration of other people’s welfare.
‘Testosterone is associated with aggressive behaviour in both animals and humans,’ the researchers wrote in their paper.
‘Here, we establish a link between increased testosterone and selfishness in economic decision making and identify the neural mechanisms through which testosterone reduces generosity.’