The activity of male hormones, androgens, can give rise to acne during adolescence, but may also protect against Coronary heart disease in adulthood, UK researchers report.
However, androgens also appear to be associated with an increased risk of dying from Prostate cancer, the study in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests.
“Androgen level or androgen activity is implicated in several health outcomes, but its independent role remains controversial.” Dr. Bruna Galobardes, from the University of Bristol, and colleagues note.
The investigators examined the association between history of acne in young men and cause-specific mortality in 11,232 men. When the subjects were students between 1948 and 1968, they participated in health checks, which included any history of acne.
Subsequently, close to 10,000 subjects were successfully traced through the National Health Service Registry.
Overall, 18 percent reported a history of acne. These men were 33 percent less likely to have died of coronary heart disease than men with no reported acne, the investigators found.
There was evidence, however, that the men with acne also had a 67 percent higher risk dying from Prostate cancer.
Some previous studies have found that androgens may have a protective effect against cardiovascular disease. But the data are conflicting, with other studies finding an increased risk associated with higher levels of androgens, Galobardes’ team notes.
Also, “The role of androgens on the prostate gland has not been elucidated, and whether they induce prostate cancer or facilitate the growth of existing lesions is not clear,” the researchers add.
SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology, June 15, 2005.
Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD