Insulin, insulin-like growth factor-I and breast cancer risk in Japanese women

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. Jul-Sep 2003;4(3):239-46.


To evaluate the effects of glucose metabolism related factors, such as insulin and insulin-like growth-factors (IGFs), on breast cancer development among Japanese women, we conducted a case-referent study comparing 187 women presenting with operable breast cancer and 190 women of the same age having no breast cancer. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) were determined by multiple logistic regression analysis. In the present study, no association in risk was observed with increasing levels of IGF-I or IGF binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3), before or after adjustment these factors. However, a suggestion of a positive association of an increased breast cancer risk was evident in postmenopausal women with elevated plasma insulin levels, particularly those with BMI>23.07. The OR for plasma insulin in the top tertile was 4.48 (95%CI:1.07-18.7) compared to the bottom tertile. For C-peptide, there was a similar positive association, with a corresponding OR of 2.28. In addition, we observed strong links between plasma insulin, C-peptide levels and estrogen receptor (ER) negative breast cancer, with ORs of 2.79(95%CI:1.09-7.16), and 2.52 (95%CI:0.91-6.97) respectively, for the top versus bottom tertiles. In conclusion, the present study suggested that plasma insulin level is a predictor of postmenopausal breast cancer in obese women and ER negative breast cancer. Additional studies are needed to clarify the role of glucose metabolism pathways in breast cancer development and interaction of IGF systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis*
  • Japan
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Premenopause / metabolism
  • Receptors, Progesterone / blood
  • Risk Factors


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I