Body fat distribution, peripheral indicators of androgenic activity, and blood pressure in women Journal Articles uri icon

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  • This report analyzes the association between blood pressure and three indicators of peripheral androgenic activity (PIAAs): body fat distribution, hirsutism, and sebum production. Furthermore, it analyzes the associations among these PIAAs to understand whether they are indicators of the same androgenic pattern. The study was conducted among 314 healthy women, aged 35-69 years, participating in the baseline examination of the Study of Hormones and Diet in the Etiology of Breast Cancer (ORDET), an Italian cohort study of breast cancer. Body fat distribution was measured as the ratio of waist-to-hip circumference (waist-to-hip ratio). Three hirsutism scores were developed by use of factor analysis after nine areas of androgen-sensitive, pilo-sebaceum units of the body were examined. Sebum production was measured by a sebumeter. Results indicated a positive correlation between the waist-to-hip ratio and the lip hirsutism score (r = 0.157). Conversely, sebum production correlated negatively with both the lip hirsutism score (r = -0.154) and the waist-to-hip ratio (r = -0.153). By use of multiple regression and with adjustment for age and body mass index, the waist-to-hip ratio was found to be positively and significantly related to both diastolic and systolic blood pressure, whereas sebum production was inversely and significantly related to both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. The facial hirsutism score was positively related to systolic blood pressure, while the limb hirsutism score was inversely and significantly related to diastolic blood pressure. Finally, interrelationships among these markers of androgenic activity were found to be weak, suggesting that these markers may be under the influence of local metabolism of the androgenic steroids. Further hormonal analyses are needed to determine whether PIAA measures obtained in epidemiological settings are useful in study of androgenic patterns and blood pressure.


  • Muti, Paola
  • Trevisan, Maurizio
  • Panico, Salvatore
  • Micheli, Andrea
  • Celentano, Egidio
  • Freudenheim, Jo L
  • Berrino, Franco

publication date

  • May 1996