There are conflicting data on the effect of cigarette smoking on serum levels of the various sex hormones. Some studies suggest that cigarette smoke produces an antiestrogenic effect. Smoking may also affect the metabolism of other sex steroids such as testosterone and adrenal hormones, and thereby influence the incidence of benign and malignant growth of the prostate. Epidemiologic studies analyzing a possible association between cigarette smoking and prostate cancer are not conclusive, although some show a positive relationship. The etiology of BPH is undoubtedly multifactorial. Estrogens as well as androgens may be involved in the pathogenesis of BPH. There are several studies that indicate that cigarette smokers have a lower likelihood of requiring surgery for BPH. Growth of the prostate may not correlate with serum levels of androgens and estrogens. The local hormonal milieu of the target cells in the prostate are probably more critical than the more easily measured serum levels. This review examines the literature dealing with cigarette smoking and both BPH and prostate cancer. If there is an effect, then elucidation of the mechanism by which smoking affects the growth of the prostate may improve our understanding of BPH and prostate cancer, and may suggest preventive strategies for high risk groups.
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