Physical activity, body composition, exogenous estrogen use and their association with insulin-like growth factors

Rhiannon Carissa Dodge, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Obesity and physical inactivity are modifiable risk factors that are associated with several health issues; they are major factors in up to 30% of major cancers. Elevated levels of circulating insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) have been associated with high body composition measurements and high cancer risk; exogenous estrogen use is associated with low circulating IGF-I levels and high cancer risk. The relationship between physical activity and circulating IGF levels is complex and findings of previous studies of their relationship remain inconsistent; however, these studies included vague definitions of physical activity. In this study, we used cross-sectional data from the Women's Health Initiative to determine the relationship between specific measures of physical activity (e.g., intensity, duration, and frequency) and circulating IGF-I levels, accounting for exogenous estrogen use and body composition. These data were collected from women enrolled at Women's Health Initiative clinical centers at Baylor College of Medicine and Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Multivariate linear regression analysis showed that circulating IGF-I and IGF-binding protein (BP) 3 levels were positively associated with frequency, duration, and intensity of physical activity. Circulating IGF-I levels and the molar IGF-I:IGF-BP3 ratio were significantly associated with frequency of walking, whereas circulating IGF-BP3 levels were significantly associated with strenuous physical activity, suggesting that different aspects of physical activity and their effects on fitness affect members of the IGF family differently. The results from our study support the recommendation of a regular exercise routine, particularly that of strenuous intensity, for postmenopausal women as a means to prevention of cancer.

Subject Area

Public health|Epidemiology|Medicine

Recommended Citation

Dodge, Rhiannon Carissa, "Physical activity, body composition, exogenous estrogen use and their association with insulin-like growth factors" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1462321.