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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1999 Dec;8(12):1107-10.

Racial variation in insulin-like growth factor-1 and binding protein-3 concentrations in middle-aged men.

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Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


African-American men have the highest and Asian-American men have the lowest prostate cancer incidence rates in the United States; internationally, rates for the Asian continent are among the lowest. Higher insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1, which participates in the control of cellular growth and differentiation and is modulated by IGF-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3), was associated with an increased prostate cancer risk in three recent studies. We, therefore, investigated whether plasma levels of IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 vary by race in United States men selected from among members of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study who were 47-78 years old in 1993-1995 when they provided blood (n = 18,000). All of the men who described their major ancestry as African American (n = 63) and a random sample of 75 Asians and 75 Caucasians were invited to provide a second blood sample in 1997, of whom 42, 52, and 55, respectively, did so. IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 concentrations were determined by ELISA. We used nonparametric methods to assess racial variation in age-adjusted levels. Caucasians had the highest median IGF-1 level (224 ng/ml), followed by Asians (208 ng/ml) and African Americans (205 ng/ml). Median IGFBP-3 concentration was similar between Caucasians and Asians but was more than 13% lower in African Americans. Median molar IGF-1:IGFBP-3 ratio was greatest in Caucasians and lowest in Asians. The lower IGF-1 blood levels relative to IGFBP-3 levels among Asian men are consistent with their lower prostate cancer incidence. Although differences in circulating IGF-1 do not seem to account for the greater prostate cancer risk among African-American men, their absolute lower levels of IGFBP-3 may be contributory.

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