Serum testosterone concentration appears to be higher in black men than white men, particularly at younger ages. The higher incidence of prostate cancer in blacks has been attributed, at least in part, to this difference. Other factors associated with androgen levels in men include age and obesity. However, most of the studies of adult androgen levels are limited by their cross-sectional design. We conducted longitudinal analyses (Generalized Estimating Equation) of the associations of age, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference with total and free testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) concentrations during an 8-year period and compared these hormonal factors between black (n = 483) and white (n = 695) male participants of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study. For men ages 24 years and older at the time of the first hormone measurement, increasing age was associated with a statistically significant decrease in serum total and free testosterone and an increase in SHBG (P < 0.05). BMI and waist circumference were inversely associated with total testosterone and SHBG, but only BMI was inversely associated with free testosterone. After adjustment for age and BMI, total testosterone was higher in blacks (0.21 ng/ml; P = 0.028) than whites, an approximately 3% difference. However, after further adjustment for waist circumference, there was no black-white difference (0.05 ng/ml; P = 0.62). These results indicate that the age-associated decrease in circulating testosterone and increase in SHBG begin during the 3rd decade of life, and that increasing obesity, particularly central obesity, is associated with decreasing total testosterone and SHBG. Results also suggest that the previously observed difference in total testosterone between black and white men could be attributed, for the most part, to racial differences in abdominal obesity.
- Received December 7, 2001.
- Revision received May 16, 2002.
- Accepted May 29, 2002.