Body Size in Early Life and Adult Levels of Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 and Insulin-like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3

Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 181 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
American journal of epidemiology (Impact Factor: 5.23). 08/2011; 174(6):642-51. DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwr123
Source: PubMed


Body size in early life has been associated with breast cancer risk. This may be partly mediated through the insulin-like
growth factor (IGF) pathway. The authors assessed whether birth weight, body fatness at ages 5 and 10 years, and body mass
index (BMI; weight (kg)/height (m)2) at age 18 years were associated with plasma concentrations of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and insulin-like growth
factor binding protein 3 in 6,520 women aged 32–70 years at blood draw from the Nurses’ Health Study (1990–2006) and Nurses’
Health Study II (1997–2005). Birth weight, body fatness in childhood, and BMI at age 18 years were inversely associated with
adult IGF-1 levels. For example, IGF-1 levels were 11.9% lower in women who reported being heaviest at age 10 years than in
those who were leanest at age 10 (P-trend < 0.0001). Further, women who reported their birth weight as ≥10 pounds (≥4.5 kg) (vs. <5.5 pounds (<2.5 kg)) had 7.9%
lower IGF-1 levels (P-trend = 0.002). Women whose BMI at age 18 years was ≥30 (vs. <20) had 14.1% lower IGF-1 levels (P-trend < 0.0001). Similar inverse associations were observed for insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3. These observations
did not vary by adult BMI or menopausal status at blood draw. These findings suggest that altered IGF-1 levels in adulthood
may be a mechanism through which early-life body size influences subsequent breast cancer risk.

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    • "Obesity has several other consequences that may have a role in breast cancer development. Elevated levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 are common in overweight and obese women (Gunter et al, 2009; Poole et al, 2011). Among other effects, insulin directly stimulates tumour proliferation and increases levels of free oestrogen by inhibiting liver synthesis of sex hormone binding globulins (Gunter et al, 2009). "
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