Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) is a protein produced by the liver which binds to three sex hormones found in both men and women: estrogen, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and testosterone. SHBG carries these three hormones through the blood to where they are needed.
Decreased SHBG levels are often seen in cases of hirsutism, acne vulgaris and the polycystic ovary syndrome. SHBG levels may be modestly reduced in hypothyroidism, acromegaly, Cushing's disease and hyperprolactinemia.
Although SHBG binds with three hormones, the critical one for testing purposes is testosterone.
The use of dexamethasone in the treatment of women with hyperandrogenic hirsutism typically leads to an increase in SHBG concentrations.
Thyroid diseases such as hypothyroid affect hormonal balance.
Obesity tends to increase the levels of sex hormone (estrogen, testosterone) activity, and decrease levels of sex hormone binding globulin.
It has been observed that a vegetarian diet is associated with high plasma levels of sex hormone-binding globulin, reducing clearance of sex hormones and probably risk of breast and prostate cancer.
Obesity tends to decrease levels of sex hormone binding globulin.
Aromatase inhibitors such as DIM, I3C, and Chrysin should be avoided, as they will enhance any preexisting androgen/estrogen dominance.
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