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Low salivary testosterone levels in patients with breast cancer

Constantine Dimitrakakis12*, David Zava3, Spyros Marinopoulos2, Alexandra Tsigginou2, Aris Antsaklis2 and Rebecca Glaser4

Author Affiliations

1 DEB, NICHD, NIH, CRC, Room 1-3330, 10 Center Drive, MSC-1103 Bethesda, Maryland, USA

2 Athens University Medical School, 80 Vas. Sophias Av., 115 28 Athens, Greece

3 ZRT Laboratory, Beaverton, Oregon, USA

4 Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, Dayton Ohio, USA

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:547  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-547

Published: 11 October 2010



Correlation between circulating sex steroid levels and breast cancer has been controversial, with measurement of free, or bioavailable hormone rarely available. Salivary hormone levels represent the bioavailable fraction. To further elucidate the role of endogenous hormones in breast cancer, we aimed to assess correlation between salivary sex steroid levels and breast cancer prevalence.


Salivary hormone levels of testosterone (T), Estradiol (E2), Progesterone (P), Estriol (E3), Estrone (E1), DHEAS and Cortisol (C) were measured by Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA) in 357 women with histologically verified breast cancer and 184 age-matched control women.


Salivary T and DHEAS levels were significantly lower in breast cancer cases vs. controls (27.2+13.9 vs. 32.2+17.5 pg/ml, p < 0.001 for T and 5.3+4.3 vs. 6.4+4.5 ng/ml, p = 0.007 for DHEAS). E2 and E1 levels were elevated and E3 levels were lowered in cases vs. controls.


Salivary T levels, representing the bioavailable hormone, are significantly lower in women with breast cancer compared to age-matched control women. These findings support the protective role of biovailable testosterone in counteracting the proliferative effects of estrogens on mammary tissue.