Association of serum α-tocopherol with sex steroid hormones and interactions with smoking: Implications for prostate cancer risk

Alison M. Mondul, Sabine Rohrmann, Andy Menke, Manning Feinleib, William G. Nelson, Elizabeth A. Platz, Demetrius Albanes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Vitamin E may protect against prostate cancer, possibly only in smokers and, we hypothesize, through altered sex steroid hormones. A controlled trial in smokers showed that sex hormone levels were inversely associated with baseline serum α-tocopherol and decreased in response to vitamin E supplementation. The vitamin E-hormone relation is understudied in non-smokers. Methods: Serum sex steroid hormones and α-tocopherol were measured for 1,457 men in NHANES III. Multivariable-adjusted geometric mean hormone concentrations by α-tocopherol quintile were estimated. Results: We observed lower mean testosterone, estradiol, and SHBG concentrations with increasing serum α-tocopherol (Q1 = 5.5 and Q5 = 4.6 ng/ml, p-trend = 0.0007; Q1 = 37.8 and Q5 = 33.1 pg/ml, p-trend = 0.02; Q1 = 38.8 and Q5 = 30.6 pg/ml, p-trend = 0.05, respectively). Interactions between serum α-tocopherol and exposure to cigarette smoke for total testosterone, total estradiol, and SHBG were found with the inverse relation observed only among smokers. Conclusions: Results from this nationally representative, cross-sectional study indicate an inverse association between serum α-tocopherol and circulating testosterone, estradiol, and SHBG, but only in men who smoked. Our findings support vitamin E selectively influencing sex hormones in smokers and afford possible mechanisms through which vitamin E may impact prostate cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-836
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Alpha-Tocopherol
  • Cross-sectional studies
  • Gonadal steroid hormones
  • Prostatic neoplasms
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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