Lower TSH and higher free thyroxine predict incidence of prostate but not breast, colorectal or lung cancer

Yi X. Chan, Matthew W. Knuiman, Mark L. Divitini, Suzanne J. Brown, John Walsh, Bu B. Yeap

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Thyroid hormones modulate proliferative, metabolic and angiogenic pathways. However few studies have examined associations of thyroid hormones with cancer risk. Objectives: To explore associations of thyrotropin (TSH), free thyroxine (FT4) and anti-thyroperoxidase antibodies (TPOAb) with the incidence of all (non-skin) cancers and specific common cancers. Design and setting: A prospective cohort study of a community-dwelling population aged 25-84 years in Western Australia. Main outcome measures: Archived sera from 3649 participants in the 1994/1995 Busselton Health Survey were assayed for TSH, FT4 and TPOAb. Cancer outcomes until 30 June 2014 were ascertained using data linkage. Longitudinal analyses were performed using Cox proportional hazards regression. Results: During 20-year follow-up, 600 participants were diagnosed with non-skin cancer, including 126, 100, 103 and 41 prostate, breast, colorectal and lung cancers respectively. Higher TSH was associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer after adjusting for potential confounders, with a 30% lower risk for every 1 mIU/L increase in TSH (adjusted hazard ratio (HR): 0.70, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.55-0.90, P = 0.005). Similarly, higher FT4 was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer (adjusted HR: 1.11 per 1 pmol/L increase, 95% CI: 1.03-1.19, P = 0.009). There were no associations of TSH, FT4 or TPOAb with all non-skin cancer events combined, or with breast, colorectal or lung cancer. Conclusion: In a community-dwelling population, lower TSH and higher FT4 were associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. Further studies are required to assess if thyroid function is a biomarker or risk factor for prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-308
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017

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