Insulin-Like Growth Factors and How They Affect Cancer

Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) play an important role in the manifestation of certain types of cancer. Oasis of Hope Hospital takes IGFs into consideration when planning a treatment. In particular, Oasis of Hope Hospital tries to reduce IGF-1 for breast, colon, pancreatic, and prostate cancer.

IGFs serve as a natural and important part of the body’s regulatory system and play a role in the proper growth of children. They are named insulin-like growth factors because they have protein sequences that are very similar to the insulin molecule. The two main types of insulin-like growth factor are IGF-1 and IGF-2. As their names suggest, IGFs affect growth.

IGF-2 is thought to work primarily in the womb and is essential for the proper development of the fetus. Later in life, IGF-2 also plays a key role in the development and function of certain organs, particularly the brain and liver.

When present in children, IGF-1 leads the child to reach maximum growth potential. Children who lack the growth hormone may not develop fully, may experience a reduced hearing ability, and tend to be shorter. Conversely, children with higher than average IGF-1 levels tend to develop higher IQs.

In adults, IGF-1 also plays a role, particularly in the aging process. When the growth factor operates properly, it binds with neurons to prolong their life and also helps to prevent muscle atrophy. It also affects the cartilage and bones in a positive way.

However, like all systems in the body, IGF-1 needs to be regulated which, in a healthy individual, is accomplished by IGF-binding proteins. They prevent IGF-1 from acting too aggressively.

Research has shown that elevated IGF-1 levels can lead to certain types of cancer, as described above. This is because an imbalance is caused between the amount of IGF-1 in the system and the binding proteins available to neutralize the growth factor.

In particular, IGF-1 levels in the body can be affected by diet, as the liver increases its production of the hormone in response to diets that emphasize large quantities of animal protein. Therefore, in societies that rely heavily on such diets, like America, cancer influenced by IGF-1 is more prevalent.

Although not all IGF-1 cancers can be treated by reducing the level of the hormone in the body, it is prudent to adopt a diet that lowers the amount of the hormone created by the liver anyway in order to decrease the odds of new cancer induction.


Author: Oasis of Hope Hospital

Founded by the late Dr. Ernesto Contreras, Sr., Oasis of Hope Hospital has treated more than 100,000 patients from 55 countries around the world since opening its doors in 1963. Oasis of Hope Hospital takes a multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment, combining conventional and alternative approaches to address the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of its patients. Currently led by Dr. Francisco Contreras, the son of the organization's founder, Oasis of Hope Hospital is based in Tijuana, Mexico. Prior to overseeing Oasis of Hope Hospital, Dr. Francisco Contreras attended the University of Vienna in Austria, where he specialized in surgical oncology and graduated with honors. At Oasis of Hope Hospital, Dr. Contreras consults with patients, conducts surgeries, and handles administrative affairs in conjunction with the board of directors. He has spoken extensively around the world and regularly attends alternative and integrative health care conventions. Dr. Contreras has written a number of books on battling cancer. He advocates a positive attitude and an open-minded approach to cancer care. While it is based in Mexico, Oasis of Hope Hospital employs a staff of nurses and doctors who speak English and communicate regularly with patients from around the world. Oasis of Hope Hospital has passed several inspections conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Mexican board of health, devoting itself to maintaining a clean and modern environment for its physicians and patients. In addition to a full staff of medical professionals, Oasis of Hope Hospital provides each patient with a personal companion to assist with any non-medical needs, ranging from locating stationary to connecting a computer or spending time in conversation. Oasis of Hope Hospital encourages patients to bring their loved ones and provides a non-hospital bed in each room for family members. Oasis of Hope Hospital also focuses on providing alternative treatments and is particularly well-known for its success with laetrile therapy for cancer. In addition to alternative treatments, the physicians at Oasis of Hope Hospital also sometimes employ chemotherapy in conjunction with other approaches to produce the best possible outcomes for each patient with cancer.

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