Effects of long-term α-tocopherol supplementation on serum hormones in older men

Terryl J. Hartman, Joanne F. Dorgan, Karen Woodson, Jarmo Virtamo, Joseph A. Tangrea, Olli P. Heinonen, Philip R. Taylor, Michael J. Barrett, Demetrius Albanes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. α-tocopherol supplementation significantly reduced risk of prostate cancer in the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) Study. Sex hormones are thought to be involved in the etiology of prostate cancer. We examined whether long-term supplementation with α-tocopherol modified serum hormone levels. METHODS. Men who were cancer-free consumed ≥ 90% of the study capsules, and who had both baseline and follow-up blood available, were eligible for the study. One hundred men who received α-tocopherol were matched on age, study center, and length of time between blood draws to 100 men who received a placebo. Multivariate linear regression models which allowed for a separate intercept for each matched pair were used to evaluate the effect of α-tocopherol supplementation on follow-up hormone concentrations. RESULTS. Compared to men who received a placebo, we found significantly lower serum androstenedione (P=0.04) and testosterone (P=0.04) concentrations among men who received α-tocopherol, after controlling for baseline hormone level, follow-up serum cholesterol concentration, body mass index, smoking, and fasting time. Geometric mean (95% confidence interval; CI) androstenedione concentration among men who received α-tocopherol was 145 ng/dl (CI, 137-153) after adjusting for covariates, compared to 158 ng/dl (CI, 148-167) among men who received a placebo. Mean testosterone concentrations for men who received α-tocopherol and placebo were 539 (CI, 517-562) and 573 (CI, 549-598) ng/dl, respectively. CONCLUSIONS. These results suggest that long-term α-tocopherol supplementation decreases serum androgen concentrations, and could have been one of the factors contributing to the observed reduction in incidence and mortality of prostate cancer in the α-tocopherol treatment group of the ATBC Study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-38
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Urology


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