Effects of alcohol on insulin-like growth factor I and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 in postmenopausal women

Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Feb;81(2):503-7. doi: 10.1093/ajcn.81.2.503.


Background: Increased circulating insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) concentrations, frequently adjusted for IGF binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3), have been associated with increased risk of several types of cancer, including colon, prostate, and breast. Studies have suggested that alcohol may affect IGF-I or IGFBP-3; however, controlled feeding studies to assess alcohol's effects on IGF-I or IGFBP-3 have not been conducted.

Objective: To determine whether chronic, moderate alcohol intake affects serum IGF-I or IGFBP-3 concentrations, we performed a controlled, crossover feeding study.

Design: Fifty-three postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to consume 0 g (control), 15 g (one drink), or 30 g (2 drinks) alcohol daily for 8 wk and were rotated through the other 2 intake levels in random order. All foods and beverages were provided during the intervention. Individuals were monitored and calories adjusted to maintain constant weight, and serum was collected at the end of each diet period.

Results: Compared with the effects of 0 g alcohol/d, IGF-I concentrations were nearly unchanged by 15 g alcohol/d (0.8%; 95% CI: -3.2%, 3.5%) but decreased significantly by 4.9% (95% CI: -8.0%, -1.6%) with 30 g alcohol/d. IGFBP-3 concentrations significantly increased by 3.0% (95% CI: 0.4%, 5.6%) with 15 g alcohol/d but did not increase significantly with 30 g/d (1.8%; 95% CI: -0.9%, 4.5%).

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first published controlled diet study to find that in postmenopausal women, when weight is kept constant, alcohol consumption reduces the amount of serum IGF-I potentially available for receptor binding. These findings suggest that the effect of alcohol intake should be considered in studies of IGF-I, IGFBP-3, and cancer in postmenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / metabolism*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / metabolism*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Postmenopause / blood*


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3
  • Ethanol
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I