Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) have been associated with growth, body size, physical activity, and colorectal cancer (CRC). We hypothesized that variants in IGF-related genes increase the CRC susceptibility associated with a larger body size and a lack of physical activity. We assessed this in the Netherlands Cohort Study (NLCS). Participants (n=120 852) completed a baseline questionnaire on diet and cancer. ~75% returned toenail clippings. Using a case-cohort approach and 16.3 years of follow-up, toenail DNA from 3768 subcohort members and 2580 CRC cases was genotyped. We aggregated unfavorable alleles (potentially increasing CRC risk) for 18 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 8 genes into a sum score. The sum score (in tertiles) and an IGF1 19-CA repeat polymorphism (19/19, 19/non-19, and non-19/non-19 repeats) in combination with body size (mostly in tertiles) and (non-)occupational physical activity (>12, 8-12, and <8 kJ/min in the job and >90, >60-90, <30-60, and </=30 min/day) were analyzed by Cox regression. Increasingly higher hazard ratios (HRs) for CRC were observed for a larger adult body mass index, larger trouser size, and tallness in the presence of more unfavorable alleles in men. HRs (95% confidence intervals) for joint effects were 1.55 (1.06-2.25), 1.78 (1.29-2.46), and 1.48 (1.01-2.17), respectively. In women, variant repeat alleles halved CRC risk irrespective of body size and physical activity. No interactions tested significant. To conclude, a larger body size was a CRC risk factor in men in the presence of an accumulation of unfavorable alleles in IGF-related genes, but interactions were nonsignificant.
Simons, C. C. J. M., Schouten, L. J., Godschalk, R., van Engeland, M., van den Brandt, P. A., van Schooten, F. J., & Weijenberg, M. P. (2015). Body size, physical activity, genetic variants in the insulin-like growth factor pathway and colorectal cancer risk. Carcinogenesis, 36(9), 971-981. https://doi.org/10.1093/carcin/bgv077