The 24-hr mean plasma concentrations of dehydroisoandrosterone (DHA) and dehydroisoandrosterone sulfate were measured in 11 women with primary operable breast cancer, ages 31 to 78 years, and in 37 normal women, ages 21 to 75 years. In contrast to the marked and progressive decline of DHA and dehydroisoandrosterone sulfate concentration with age in the normal women, the concentrations of both steroids were age invariant in the cancer patients. The premenopausal patients had subnormal plasma DHA and dehydroisoandrosterone sulfate levels, while the post menopausal patients had supranormal levels. Since the plasma DHA/androsterone ratio was normal in the premenopausal patients and significantly elevated in the postmenopausal patients, it is postulated that the subnormal plasma adrenal androgen levels in the premenopausal patients were due principally to diminished production of these steroids, while the elevated plasma levels in the postmenopausal patients were due principally to slowed metabolic removal. Reports in the literature that DHA inhibits the development of breast cancer in mice suggest that the subnormal plasma DHA levels in premenopausal breast cancer may have clinical significance.
These studies were supported in part by grants CA-07304 and CA-22795 from the National Cancer Institute and grant RR-53 from the General Clinical Research Centers Branch, NIH.