Insulin-like growth factors and cancer: no role in screening. Evidence from the BUPA study and meta-analysis of prospective epidemiological studies

Br J Cancer. 2006 Jul 3;95(1):112-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6603200.


Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), insulin-like growth factor-2 (IGF-2), and insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) were measured in frozen serum samples from 1051 men with cancer and 3142 controls in a nested case-control study from the British United Provident Association (BUPA) study cohort and associations with 14 cancers were examined, including prostate, colorectal, and lung. A meta-analysis of studies on these three cancer sites was also conducted. In the meta-analysis the odds ratio between the highest quartile IGF-1 group and the lowest quartile group was 1.31 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.03-1.67) for prostate, 1.37 (1.05-1.78) for colorectal and 1.02 (0.80-1.31) for lung cancer, and for IGF-2 it was 0.72 (0.36-1.44) for prostate and 1.95 (1.26-3.00) for colorectal cancer. Results from the BUPA study were consistent with the estimates from the other studies. There were no statistically significant associations with IGFBP-3 and any of the cancer sites considered. Our results suggest that IGF-1, IGF-2, and IGFBP-3 measurements have no value in cancer screening, although IGF-1 and IGF-2 may be of aetiological significance in relation to colorectal and prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Somatomedins / analysis*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Somatomedins