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Cancer Causes Control. 2010 Nov;21(11):1829-42. doi: 10.1007/s10552-010-9610-x. Epub 2010 Jul 23.

The relation between adiposity throughout the life course and variation in IGFs and IGFBPs: evidence from the ProtecT (Prostate testing for cancer and Treatment) study.

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Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, 39 Whatley Road, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK.



Adiposity is positively associated with advanced, metastatic, and fatal prostate cancer. Obesity-related variations in insulin-like growth factors (IGF-I and -II) and their binding proteins (IGFBPs) could underlie these associations.


We investigated associations of adiposity throughout the life course (determined retrospectively) with serum levels of IGF-I, IGF-II, IGFBP-2 and IGFBP-3 in a population-based study of 1,106 healthy men.


IGF-I and IGF-II showed inverted U-shaped associations with adult body mass index (BMI) (p quadratic model = 0.04 and 0.06, respectively), although differences between quartiles with the highest and lowest IGF-I levels were small (no more than 5 ng/ml). IGFBP-2 was strongly inversely related to adult BMI (-22% change per SD increase in BMI; 95% confidence interval (CI) -24% to -19%) and waist circumference (-18% change per SD increase in waist circumference; 95% CI -20% to -15%) (p < 0.001). IGFBP-3 was positively related to BMI (63.5 ng/ml increase per SD increase in BMI; 95% CI -2.69 to 129.8, p = 0.06). IGFBP-2 and IGFBP-3 were strongly related to body shape change from childhood to adulthood, with men who gained the most weight having the lowest IGFBP-2 (9% lower per category body shape change; 95% CI -11% to -7%, p < 0.001) and the highest IGFBP-3 (50 ng/ml increase per category; 95% CI 8 to 92, p = 0.02).


We provide evidence that adiposity and change in body shape through the life course are related to the IGF system, with the largest effect of adiposity being to lower IGFBP-2, a possible marker of insulin resistance. The results suggest that circulating IGF-I levels may not be important mediators of the association of adiposity with aggressive prostate cancer, but the role of IGFBP-2 deserves further investigation.

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