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Teen Acne in Males Linked with Higher Prostate Cancer Risk in Adulthood
NEW YORK JUN 16, 2005 (Reuters Health) - Androgen activity during adolescence, as evidenced by acne, may protect against coronary heart disease in adulthood.  However, it appears to also be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer mortality, the results of a study published in the June 15th issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology suggest.  

"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, UK, and colleagues note.

The investigators examined the association between history of acne in young men and cause-specific mortality in the Glasgow Alumni Cohort Study. Data were collected from 11,232 male students between 1948 and 1968, and the subjects participated in health checks and reported history of acne, a marker of hormone activity.

Vital status was traced through the National Health Service Registry, and close to 10,000 subjects were successfully traced. Risk factors in adulthood were ascertained from about 50% of the 8410 subjects who responded to a postal follow-up.

Overall, 18.0% reported a history of acne.  Subjects with a history of acne were more often nonsmokers than those without such a history.  Those with a history of acne also tended to be from a lower socioeconomic background.  No other differences were observed between the groups in other adolescent or most adult risk factors.

Men who reported a history of acne had a lower risk of all-cause (hazard ratio = 0.89), cardiovascular (HR = 0.74), and coronary heart disease (HR = 0.67) mortality.  There was evidence, however, that these subjects also had a higher risk of prostate cancer mortality (HR = 1.67).

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, Dr. Galobardes' team notes.

"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.

"During puberty, prostate-specific antigen levels increase, and prostate epithelial differentiation occurs, indicating that changes in adolescence may modify later risk of prostate cancer," they suggest.

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