Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 22, Issue 8, pp 1141–1151 | Cite as

Body fatness and sex steroid hormone concentrations in US men: results from NHANES III

  • Sabine RohrmannEmail author
  • Meredith S. Shiels
  • David S. Lopez
  • Nader Rifai
  • William G. Nelson
  • Norma Kanarek
  • Eliseo Guallar
  • Andy Menke
  • Corinne E. Joshu
  • Manning Feinleib
  • Siobhan Sutcliffe
  • Elizabeth A. Platz
Original Paper



Obesity is associated with a variety of chronic diseases, including cancer, which may partly be explained by its influence on sex steroid hormone concentrations. Whether different measures of obesity, i.e., body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and percent body fat were differentially associated with circulating levels of sex steroid hormones was examined in 1,265 men, aged 20–90+ years old, attending the morning examination session of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III).

Materials and methods

Serum hormones were measured by immunoassay. Weight, height, and waist circumference were measured by trained staff. Percent body fat was estimated from bioelectrical impedance. Multivariate linear regression was used to estimate associations between body fatness measures and hormone levels.


Total and free testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin concentrations decreased, whereas total and free estradiol increased with increasing BMI, waist circumference, and percent body fat (all p trend < 0.05). The magnitude of change in these hormones was similar for a one-quartile increase in each body fatness measure.


Measured BMI, waist circumference, and percent body fat led to similar inferences about their association with hormone levels in men.


NHANES III Testosterone Estradiol Obesity 



This is the eighth paper from the Hormone Demonstration Program funded by the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund at Johns Hopkins. Drs. Shiels, Lopez, and Joshu were supported by the National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award (T32 CA009314). We thank Gary Bradwin in Dr. Rifai’s laboratory.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabine Rohrmann
    • 1
    Email author
  • Meredith S. Shiels
    • 2
  • David S. Lopez
    • 2
  • Nader Rifai
    • 3
  • William G. Nelson
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
  • Norma Kanarek
    • 4
    • 7
  • Eliseo Guallar
    • 2
    • 8
  • Andy Menke
    • 2
    • 8
  • Corinne E. Joshu
    • 2
  • Manning Feinleib
    • 2
  • Siobhan Sutcliffe
    • 9
  • Elizabeth A. Platz
    • 2
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Institute of Social and Preventive MedicineUniversity of ZurichZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of EpidemiologyJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of Laboratory MedicineHarvard Medical School and Children’s HospitalBostonUSA
  4. 4.Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns HopkinsBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.James Buchanan Brady Urological InstituteJohns Hopkins Medical InstitutionsBaltimoreUSA
  6. 6.Departments of Oncology, Pathology, Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation SciencesJohns Hopkins Medical InstitutionsBaltimoreUSA
  7. 7.Department of Environmental Health SciencesJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  8. 8.Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical ResearchJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  9. 9.Department of Surgery and the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer CenterWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA

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