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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Apr;91(4):1382-9. Epub 2006 Jan 24.

Associations of childhood and adulthood height and the components of height with insulin-like growth factor levels in adulthood: a 65-year follow-up of the Boyd Orr cohort.

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Defence Analytical Services Agency Health, Spur 7, Beckford Block, Ensleigh, Bath BA1 5AB, United Kingdom.



Taller individuals with longer legs have a higher risk of cancer but a lower risk of coronary heart disease.


We investigated whether childhood height and its components are associated with the IGF system in adulthood.


We analyzed data from 429 participants of the Boyd Orr cohort, for whom height measured in childhood (mean age, 7.4 yr) in 1937-1939 could be related to levels of IGF-I, IGF-II, IGF binding protein (IGFBP)-2, and IGFBP-3 in adulthood (mean age, 71.1 yr). In 385 participants, measured height in adulthood could be related to IGF levels.


In fully adjusted models (controlling for age, sex, socioeconomic factors, lifestyle, and body mass index), childhood height and its components were not associated with adult circulating IGF-I, IGF-II, or IGFBP-2 levels. IGFBP-3 was 85.5 ng/ml higher (95% confidence interval, -11.6 to 182.5; P = 0.08) per sd increase in childhood trunk length and 83.6 ng/ml lower (95% confidence interval, -10.3 to 177.5; P = 0.08) per sd increase in childhood leg/trunk ratio. Height in adulthood was not associated with IGF-I, IGF-II, or IGFBP-3 and was inversely associated with IGFBP-2 (P = 0.05) after additionally controlling for childhood height.


There was no evidence that associations of childhood height with cancer and coronary heart disease risk are mediated by IGF-I in adulthood. The anthropometric associations with IGFBP-2 and IGFBP-3 could be chance findings but warrant additional investigation. IGF levels in childhood may be more important determinants of long-term disease risk than adult levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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