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Testosterone and estrone increase from the age of 70 years: findings from the Sex Hormones in Older Women Study

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posted on 2023-05-20, 06:46 authored by Davis, SR, Bell, RJ, Robinson, PJ, Handelsman, DJ, Gilbert, T, Phung, J, Desai, R, Lockery, JE, Woods, RL, Wolfe, RS, Reid, CM, Mark NelsonMark Nelson, Murray, AM, McNeil, JJ

Context: There is a lack of understanding of what is normal in terms of sex steroid levels in older women.

Objective: To determine whether sex steroid levels vary with age in and establish reference ranges for women >70 years of age.

Design and Setting: Cross-sectional, community-based study.

Participants: Included 6392 women ≥70 years of age.

Main Outcome Measures: Sex steroids measured by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. A reference group, to establish sex steroid age-specific reference ranges, excluded women using systemic or topical sex steroid, antiandrogen or glucocorticoid therapy, or an antiglycemic agent.

Results: The reference group of 5326 women had a mean age of 75.1 (±4.2) years, range of 70 to 94.7 years. Median values (range) were 181.2 pmol/L (3.7 to 5768.9) for estrone (E1), 0.38 nmol/L (0.035 to 8.56) for testosterone (T), 2.60 nmol/L (0.07 to 46.85) for dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and 41.6 nmol/L (2.4 to 176.6) for SHBG. Estradiol and DHT were below method sensitivity in 66.1% and 72.7% of the samples, respectively. Compared with women aged 70 to 74 years, women aged ≥85 years had higher median levels of E1 (11.7%, P = 0.01), T (11.3%, P = 0.02), and SHBG (22.7%, P < 0.001) and lower DHEA (30% less, P < 0.001). Women with overweight and obesity had higher E1 (P < 0.001) and T (P < 0.03) and lower SHBG (P < 0.001) than did women with normal body mass index. Smokers had 17.2% higher median T levels (P = 0.005).

Conclusion: From the age of 70 years, T and E1 increase with age, despite a steady decline in DHEA. Whether E1 and T are biomarkers for longevity or contribute to healthy aging merits investigation.


Publication title

Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism










Menzies Institute for Medical Research


Endocrine Soc

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4350 East West Highway Suite 500, Bethesda, USA, Md, 20814-4110

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Copyright © 2019 Endocrine Society This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism following peer review. The version of record: Susan R Davis, Robin J Bell, Penelope J Robinson, David J Handelsman, Tom Gilbert, James Phung, Reena Desai, Jessica E Lockery, Robyn L Woods, Rory S Wolfe, Christopher M Reid, Mark R Nelson, Anne M Murray, John J McNeil, ASPREE Investigator Group, Testosterone and Estrone Increase From the Age of 70 Years: Findings From the Sex Hormones in Older Women Study, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 104, Issue 12, December 2019, Pages 6291–6300, is available online at:

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