Oxford scientists have identified links between higher levels of a growth hormone and increased risk of developing types of cancer, new research suggests.

The study of almost 400,000 British people identified a new link between raised levels of the Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and increased thyroid cancer risk.

The collaborative effort between the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford University, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France also confirmed suspected associations with breast, prostate and colorectal cancer.

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Researchers said the study, published in the journal Cancer Research, is the largest and most comprehensive investigation into the hormone and cancer risk to date.

Scientists analysed the serum IGF-1 levels in blood samples held in the open-access UK Biobank, collected between 2006 and 2010.

They then used NHS data records up until 2016 to identify which of the sample donors went on to develop one of 30 different types of malignant cancers, within an average period of seven years, with 23,412 (5.9 per cent) of people doing so.

Lead investigator Dr Anika Knuppel, from Oxford University, said: “In this new study, we expanded the range of cancers investigated to include less common types that have rarely been investigated.

“This allowed us to identify a link between raised IGF-I levels and an increased risk for thyroid cancer in this UK cohort.”