Insulin growth factor and prostate cancer risk

In what is almost a follow-up to today’s earlier comments about the risks associated with metabolic syndrome as a consequence of diabetes and excessive weight, we now have additional analysis of the risks associated with higher than normal levels of an insulin-like hormone in the blood.

The presence of higher than normal levels of one of several insulin growth factors known as IGF-1 may signal a moderate increase in risk for prostate cancer, according to a new analysis of 12 studies published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine. An association between IGF-1 and prostate cancer risk has been postulated before. However, an analysis conducted by Roddam and colleagues now suggests that the risk for developing prostate cancer rose by 38 percent in men with IGF-1 levels in the top 20 percent compared with those in the lowest 20 percent. The analysis was based on data from studies carried out in several countries.

The association between IGF-1 and prostate cancer risk was stronger in men who developed slow-growing cancer than among those who had a more aggressive form of the disease. However, this finding may just be due to chance.

This analysis is a retrospective assessment of previously published data, and so it should be interpreted with caution. However, it strongly suggests the potential value of a prospective analysis of risk associated with higher than average levels of IGF-1.

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