Background: Components of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system have been associated with several cancers, but very few studies are available for ovarian cancer. Methods: A case-control study conducted between 1999 and 2003 in Italy, including a total of 59 women with incident, histologically confirmed ovarian cancer and 108 controls admitted to the same hospital network as cases, for acute non-neoplastic diseases. All subjects were interviewed using a validated questionnaire. Results: After adjustment for potential confounders, the multivariate odds ratios for the highest versus the lowest tertile of various IGF components were 0.6 (95% confidence interval, CI: 0.2–1.4) for free IGF-I, 0.4 (CI: 0.1–1.5) for total IGF-I, 2.6 (CI: 0.9–6.9) for IGF-binding protein (IGFBP)-1, and 0.2 (CI: 0.0–0.6) for IGFBP-3. Conclusions: This study suggests a protective role of IGFBP-3 and a positive association of IGFBP-1 with ovarian cancer. The complex role of the IGF system in ovarian carcinogenesis deserves further clarification.

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