Circulating levels of sex steroid hormones and gastric cancer


Leal YA, Song M, Zabaleta J, Medina-Escobedo G, Caron P, Lopez-Colombo A, Guillemette C, Camargo MC




Arch Med Res . 2021 Mar 26;S0188-4409(21)00046-1.

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Background and aims

Men develop gastric cancer more frequently than women, yet little is known about the mechanisms underlying this sex difference. Sex steroid hormones may influence gastric cancer risk. We therefore assessed whether major circulating adrenal precursors, androgens and estrogens were associated with gastric cancer in a high-risk Mexican population.


Blood samples were collected at time of diagnosis from 50 noncardia gastric cancer patients and 50 histologically confirmed non-atrophic gastritis controls. Serum levels of estradiol, testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) measured with a validated mass spectrometry method were categorized in tertiles as low (T1), middle (T2), and high (T3). Unconditional logistic regression models were used to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI), adjusting for age, sex, and education.


Levels of DHEA were inversely associated with gastric cancer (p-trend per tertile increase: <0.0001), with adjusted ORs (95% CI) of T2 and T3 (vs. T1) of 0.25 (0.09-0.70) and 0.10 (0.03-0.34), respectively. Levels of estradiol and testosterone were not significantly associated with gastric cancer.


Our study provides evidence that higher concentration of circulating DHEA may be associated with lower risk of noncardia gastric cancer. Longitudinal studies are needed to evaluate the temporality of this association and investigate mechanisms of disease pathogenesis.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.

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