Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Access
  • Cited by 32
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Leiba, Merav Leiba, Adi Keinan-Boker, Lital Avigdor, Abraham Derazne, Estela Levine, Hagai and Kark, Jeremy D. 2016. Adolescent weight and height are predictors of specific non-Hodgkin lymphoma subtypes among a cohort of 2,352,988 individuals aged 16 to 19 years. Cancer, Vol. 122, Issue. 7, p. 1068.

    Wells, Jonathan C. K. Pomeroy, Emma Walimbe, Subhash R. Popkin, Barry M. and Yajnik, Chittaranjan S. 2016. The Elevated Susceptibility to Diabetes in India: An Evolutionary Perspective. Frontiers in Public Health, Vol. 4,

    Darnai, Gergely Plózer, Enikő Perlaki, Gábor Orsi, Gergely Nagy, Szilvia Anett Horváth, Réka Schwarcz, Attila Kovács, Norbert Altbäcker, Anna Janszky, József and Clemens, Zsófia 2015. Milk and dairy consumption correlates with cerebral cortical as well as cerebral white matter volume in healthy young adults. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, Vol. 66, Issue. 7, p. 826.

    Emmett, Pauline M. and Jones, Louise R. 2015. Diet, growth, and obesity development throughout childhood in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Nutrition Reviews, Vol. 73, Issue. suppl 3, p. 175.

    Tranberg, Britt Madsen, Andreas N. Hansen, Axel K. and Hellgren, Lars I. 2015. Whey-reduced weight gain is associated with a temporary growth reduction in young mice fed a high-fat diet. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Vol. 26, Issue. 1, p. 9.

    Dror, Daphna K and Allen, Lindsay H 2014. Dairy product intake in children and adolescents in developed countries: trends, nutritional contribution, and a review of association with health outcomes. Nutrition Reviews, Vol. 72, Issue. 2, p. 68.

    Larnkjær, Anni Arnberg, Karina Michaelsen, Kim F. Jensen, Signe M. and Mølgaard, Christian 2014. Effect of milk proteins on linear growth and IGF variables in overweight adolescents. Growth Hormone & IGF Research, Vol. 24, Issue. 2-3, p. 54.

    Piqueras, M J Campoy, C Miranda, M T Decsi, T Koletzko, B and Emmett, P M 2014. Comparison of childhood size and dietary differences at age 4 years between three European countries. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 68, Issue. 7, p. 786.

    Thorisdottir, Birna Gunnarsdottir, Ingibjorg Palsson, Gestur Ingvi Halldorsson, Thorhallur Ingi and Thorsdottir, Inga 2014. Animal protein intake at 12 months is associated with growth factors at the age of six. Acta Paediatrica, Vol. 103, Issue. 5, p. 512.

    Luque, Veronica Escribano, Joaquin Grote, Veit Ferre, Natalia Koletzko, Berthold Gruszfeld, Dariusz Socha, Piotr Langhendries, Jean-Paul Goyens, Philippe and Closa-Monasterolo, Ricardo 2013. Does insulin-like growth factor-1 mediate protein-induced kidney growth in infants?: A secondary analysis from a randomized controlled trial. Pediatric Research, Vol. 74, Issue. 2, p. 223.

    Rzehak, Peter Grote, Veit Lattka, Eva Weber, Martina Gruszfeld, Dariusz Socha, Piotr Closa-Monasterolo, Ricardo Escribano, Joaquín Giovannini, Marcello Verduci, Elvira Goyens, Philippe Martin, Françoise Langhendries, Jean-Paul Demmelmair, Hans Klopp, Norman Illig, Thomas and Koletzko, Berthold 2013. Associations of IGF-1 gene variants and milk protein intake with IGF-I concentrations in infants at age 6months — Results from a randomized clinical trial. Growth Hormone & IGF Research, Vol. 23, Issue. 5, p. 149.

    Aune, Dagfinn Vieira, Ana Rita Chan, Doris Sau Man Navarro Rosenblatt, Deborah A. Vieira, Rui Greenwood, Darren C. Cade, Janet E. Burley, Victoria J. and Norat, Teresa 2012. Height and pancreatic cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Cancer Causes & Control, Vol. 23, Issue. 8, p. 1213.

    Holly, Jeff M.P. and Perks, Claire M. 2012. Insulin-Like Growth Factor Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America, Vol. 41, Issue. 2, p. 249.

    Kabat, Geoffrey C. Kim, Mimi Y. Jean-Wactawski-Wende, Bea, Jennifer W. Edlefsen, Kerstin L. Adams-Campbell, Lucile L. De Roos, Anneclaire J. and Rohan, Thomas E. 2012. Anthropometric factors, physical activity, and risk of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in the Women's Health Initiative. Cancer Epidemiology, Vol. 36, Issue. 1, p. 52.

    Wiley, Andrea S. 2012. Cow milk consumption, insulin-like growth factor-I, and human biology: A life history approach. American Journal of Human Biology, Vol. 24, Issue. 2, p. 130.

    Almon, Ricardo Nilsson, Torbjörn K. Sjöström, Michael and Engfeldt, Peter 2011. Lactase persistence and milk consumption are associated with body height in Swedish preadolescents and adolescents. Food & Nutrition Research, Vol. 55, Issue. 00,

    Madsen, Anja L. Larnkjær, Anni Mølgaard, Christian and Michaelsen, Kim F. 2011. IGF-I and IGFBP-3 in healthy 9month old infants from the SKOT cohort: Breastfeeding, diet, and later obesity. Growth Hormone & IGF Research, Vol. 21, Issue. 4, p. 199.

    Nielsen, Tina S. Khan, Galam Davis, Jennifer Michels, Karin B. and Hilakivi-Clarke, Leena 2011. Prepubertal exposure to cow's milk reduces susceptibility to carcinogen-induced mammary tumorigenesis in rats. International Journal of Cancer, Vol. 128, Issue. 1, p. 12.

    Michaelsen, Kim F Larnkjær, Anni Lauritzen, Lotte and Mølgaard, Christian 2010. Science base of complementary feeding practice in infancy. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, Vol. 13, Issue. 3, p. 277.

    Wiley, Andrea S. 2010. Dairy and milk consumption and child growth: Is BMI involved? An analysis of NHANES 1999-2004. American Journal of Human Biology, Vol. 22, Issue. 4, p. 517.


Milk as a food for growth? The insulin-like growth factors link

  • Imogen Rogers (a1), Pauline Emmett (a1), David Gunnell (a2), David Dunger (a3) and Jeff Holly (a4)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 January 2007

The mechanisms underlying the association of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and leg length (a marker of prepubertal growth) with cancer risk are uncertain. One hypothesis is that diet in early childhood might provide the link. The aim of the present study was to examine the association between early diet – in particular, the intakes of cows' milk and dairy products – and height, leg length and IGF-I levels at age 7–8 years.


Children participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.


Diet was assessed using a 3-day unweighed food record. Anthropometry, IGF-I and insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) were measured by standard methods.


Data on both diet and height were available for 744 children (404 boys) and on diet and IGF for 538 (295 boys). After adjusting for energy, both cows' milk and dairy product intakes were positively associated with IGF-I (P=0.040 and 0.027, respectively) and IGFBP-3 levels (P=0.082 and 0.067, respectively). These associations persisted on adjustment for potential confounders, but were abolished on controlling for protein intake. In energy-adjusted models there was only weak evidence of associations of milk and dairy product intakes with anthropometry. In boys only, dairy product intake was positively associated with leg length (equivalent to a 0.058 (0.002, 0.114) standard deviation score increase in leg length per 100 g increase in daily intake).


These data provide some evidence that variation in childhood milk and dairy product intakes underlies associations of leg length, IGF-I and cancer risk. The association appears to be due to the protein content of milk.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Milk as a food for growth? The insulin-like growth factors link
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Milk as a food for growth? The insulin-like growth factors link
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Milk as a food for growth? The insulin-like growth factors link
      Available formats
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Email
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

1D Gunnell , M Okasha , G Davey Smith , S Oliver , J Sandhu , J Holly . Height, leg length, and cancer risk: a systematic review. Epidemiologic Reviews 2001; 23: 313–42.

2W Gerver , R Bruin . Relationship between height, sitting height and subischial leg length in Dutch children: presentation of normal values. Acta Paediatrica 1995; 84: 532–5.

3D Gunnell , G Davey Smith , J Holly , S Frankel . Leg length and risk of cancer in the Boyd Orr cohort. British Medical Journal 1998; 317: 1350–1.

4D Gunnell . Commentary: Can adult anthropometry be used as a ‘biomarker’ for prenatal and childhood exposures? International Journal of Epidemiology 2002; 31: 390–4.

5A Butler , D Le Roith . Control of growth by the somatropic axis: growth hormone and the insulin-like growth factors have related and independent roles. Annual Review of Physiology 2001; 63: 141–64.

6A Juul , P Dalgaard , W Blum . Serum levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) in healthy infants, children and adolescents: the relation to IGF-I, IGF-II, IGFBP-1, IGFBP-2, age, sex, body mass index and pubertal maturation. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 1995; 80: 2534–42.

7J Chan , M Stampfer , E Giovannucci , PH Gann , J Ma , P Wilkinson , Plasma insulin-like growth factor-I and prostate cancer risk: a prospective study. Science 1998; 279: 563–6.

8A Wolk , CS Mantzoros , SO Andersson , R Bergstrom , LB Signorello , P Lagiou , Insulin-like growth factor I and prostate cancer risk: a population-based case-control study. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1998; 90: 911–5.

9S Hankinson , W Willett , G Colditz , D Hunter , D Michaud , B Deroo , Circulating concentrations of insulin-like growth factor I and risk of breast cancer. Lancet 1998; 351: 1393–6.

10J Ma , E Giovannucci , M Pollak , J Chan , J Gaziano , W Willett , Milk intake, circulating levels of insulin-like growth factor-I, and risk of colorectal cancer in men. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2001; 93: 1330–6.

11H Yu , T Rohan . Role of the insulin-like growth factor family in cancer development and progression. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2000; 92: 1472–89.

13A Renehan , M Zwahler , C Minder , S O'Dwyer , S Shalet , M Egger . Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I, IGF binding protein 3 and cancer risk: systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Lancet 2004; 363: 1346–53.

16L Kolonel . Fat, meat and prostate cancer. Epidemiologic Reviews 2001; 23: 7281.

17J Chan , E Giovannucci . Dairy products, calcium, vitamin D and risk of prostate cancer. Epidemiologic Reviews 2001; 23: 8792.

19A Trichopoulou , K Katsouyanni , S Stuver , L Tzala , C Gnardellis , E Rimm , Consumption of olive oil and specific food groups in relation to breast cancer risk in Greece. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1995; 87: 110–6.

20J Chan , E Giovannucci . Vegetables, fruits, associated micronutrients and risk of prostate cancer. Epidemiologic Reviews 2001; 23: 82–6.

21JL Freudenheim , J Marshall , J Vena , J Laughlin , J Brasure , M Swanson , Premenopausal breast cancer risk and intake of vegetables, fruits and related nutrients. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1996; 88: 340–8.

22T Key , N Allen , E Spencer , R Travis . The effect of diet on risk of cancer. Lancet 2002; 360: 861–8.

24D Gunnell , S Oliver , T Peters , J Donovan , R Persad , M Maynard , Are diet–prostate cancer associations mediated by the IGF axis? A cross-sectional analysis of diet, IGF-I and IGFBP-3 in middle-aged men. British Journal of Cancer 2003; 88: 1682–6.

27L Signorello , H Kuper , P Lagiou , L Mucci , D Trichopoulos , HO Adami . Lifestyle factors and insulin-like growth factor I levels among elderly men. European Journal of Cancer Prevention 2000; 9: 173–8.

28L Mucci , R Tamimi , P Lagiou , A Trichopoulou , V Benetou , E Spanos , Are dietary influences on the risk of prostate cancer mediated through the insulin-like growth factor system? BJU International 2001; 87: 814–20.

29RP Heaney , D McCarron , B Dawson-Huges , S Oparil , S Berga , J Stern , Dietary changes favorably affect bone remodeling in older adults. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1999; 99: 1228–33.

30J Cadogan , R Eastell , N Jones , M Barker . Milk intake and bone mineral acquisition in adolescent girls: randomised, controlled intervention trial. British Medical Journal 1997; 315: 1255–60.

31C Hoppe , C Mølgaard , A Juul , K Michaelsen . High intakes of skimmed milk, but not meat, increase serum IGF-I and IGFBP-3 in eight-year-old boys. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2004; 58: 1211–6.

32S Frankel , DJ Gunnell , TJ Peters , M Maynard , G Davey Smith . Childhood energy intake and adult mortality from cancer: the Boyd Orr Cohort Study. British Medical Journal 1998; 316: 499504.

34J Golding , M Pembrey , R Jones . ALSPAC Study Team. ALSPAC – The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. I. Study methodology. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 2001; 15: 7487.

36GM Price , AA Paul , FB Key , AC Harter , TJ Cole , KC Day , Measurement of diet in a large national survey: comparison of computerised and manual coding of records in household measures. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 1995; 8: 417–28.

50S Garnett , C Cowell , D Bradford , J Lee , C Tao , V Petrauskas , Effects of gender, body composition and birth size on IGF-I in 7- and 8-year-old children. Hormone Research 1999; 52: 221–9.

52JV Freeman , TJ Cole , S Chinn , PRM Jones , EM White , MA Preece . Cross sectional stature and weight reference curves for the UK, 1990. Archives of Disease in Childhood 1995; 73: 1724.

53D Gunnell , SE Oliver , JL Donovan , TJ Peters , D Gillatt , R Persad , Do height-related variations in insulin-like growth factors underlie the associations of stature with adult chronic disease? Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2004; 89: 213–8.

56J Thissen , J Ketelslegers , L Underwood . Nutritional regulation of the insulin-like growth factors. Endocrine Reviews 1994; 15: 80101.

57A Juul , F Scheike , M Davidsen , J Gyllenborg , T Jorgensen . Low serum insulin-like growth factor I is associated with increased risk of ischaemic heart disease. Circulation 2002; 106: 939–44.

58M Sandhu , A Heald , J Gibson , J Cruickshank , DB Dunger , N Wareham . Circulating concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-I and development of glucose intolerance: a prospective observational study. Lancet 2002; 359: 1740–5.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
  • URL: /core/journals/public-health-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *