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Gut. 2002 May;50(5):642-6.

Plasma insulin-like growth factor 1, insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3, and risk of colorectal cancer: a prospective study in northern Sweden.

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  • 1Department of Medical Biosciences, Pathology, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden.



Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) has antiapoptotic and mitogenic effects on various cell types, and raised IGF-1 levels are increasingly being implicated as potential risk factors for cancer.


To examine the relationship between IGF-1 and its major plasma binding protein, IGF binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3), and the risk of colorectal cancer.


We conducted a case-control study nested within the Northern Sweden Health and Disease Cohort. IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 were measured in prediagnostic plasma samples from 168 men and women who developed cancers of the colon (n=110) or rectum (n=58), and from 336 matched controls.


Conditional logistic regression analyses showed an increase in colon cancer risk with increasing levels of IGF-1 (odds ratios (ORs) 1.00, 1.89, 2.30, 2.66; p(trend)=0.03) and IGFBP-3 (ORs 1.00, 0.91, 1.80, 1.93; p(trend)=0.02). Rectal cancer risk was inversely related to levels of IGF-1 (ORs 1.00, 0.45, 0.33, 0.33; p(trend)=0.09) and IGFBP-3 (ORs 1.00, 0.75, 0.66, 0.49; p(trend)=0.21). Mutual adjustments between IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 did not materially alter these relationships.


These results support earlier findings of increased risk of colon cancer in subjects with elevated plasma IGF-1. Our results however do not support the hypothesis that the risk of rectal cancer could also be directly related to IGF-1 levels.

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