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High testosterone in men and increased risk of melanoma

Melanoma skin cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, with around 16,200 people diagnosed each year.

In the last decade the number of cases in men has increased by almost half (47%).

A new link between higher levels of testosterone in the blood and increased risk of melanoma skin cancer in men has been found, according to a study funded by Cancer Research UK.

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.”

The researchers’ findings also supported previously known links between testosterone and prostate cancer in men, and breast and endometrial cancer in post-menopausal women.

But, because it’s hard to calculate how long people spend in the sun, more research will be needed to determine if this new link is biological or if men with higher testosterone spend more time in the sun.

Image credit | Shutterstock

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