Determinants of circulating insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I and IGF binding proteins 1-3 in premenopausal women: physical activity and anthropometry (Netherlands)

Cancer Causes Control. 2001 Dec;12(10):951-8. doi: 10.1023/a:1013708627664.


Objective: Epidemiologic studies suggest that subjects with elevated plasma concentrations of insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I are at increased risk of developing cancer. The objective of our study was to assess whether cancer risk factors such as lack of physical activity, obesity, and central body fat distribution are associated with plasma levels of IGF-I and related proteins (i.e. IGF binding proteins 1-3 and C-peptide).

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in a population of 225 premenopausal women, aged 49-57, participating in the Prospect-EPIC study in the Netherlands. Plasma concentrations of IGF-I, IGFBP-1, IGFBP-2, IGFBP-3, and C-peptide were determined. On the day of blood collection height, weight, and waist and hip circumference were measured. Habitual physical activity was assessed using a validated self-administered questionnaire.

Results: Mean concentrations of plasma IGF-I, IGFBP-1, IGFBP-2, IGFBP-3, and C-peptide were 156.1, 14.3, 434.4, 3062, and 2.86 ng/ml, respectively. Women in the highest tertile for physical activity had lower plasma concentrations of IGF-I, IGFBP-3, and C-peptide, and higher concentrations of IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2, as compared to women in the lowest tertile. However, these differences were not statistically significant. BMI and related measures were significantly inversely associated with IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2, and positively with IGFBP-3 and C-peptide. Linear regression analyses showed that the non-significant association of physical activity with components of the plasma IGF system was further attenuated by adjusting for obesity and central body fat distribution.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that an active lifestyle is not independently associated with the plasma IGF system. We did confirm that a lean body shape is associated with higher concentrations of IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2, and possibly also with lower concentrations of IGF-I and IGFBP-3.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anthropometry
  • Blood Circulation / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • C-Peptide / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins / blood*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Premenopause / blood*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Women's Health


  • C-Peptide
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I