Question

What is IGF-1 and is it banned by the military?

OPSS Answer

Insulin-like growth factor type 1—commonly known as IGF-1—is a hormone produced naturally in the liver and involved in the human body’s growth and development. It is present in colostrum, the milk produced by mammals (including humans and cows) the first few days after giving birth. IGF-1 is at its highest level in the body during childhood and adolescence. It can also be made in a laboratory, but synthetic IGF-1 is a drug, so it is not a dietary supplement and cannot be obtained or used legally without a prescription. The United States Anti-doping Agency, World Anti-doping Agency, and most professional sports organizations specifically ban products with IGF-1.

Oral sprays, lozenges, and other products with IGF-1 are promoted as dietary supplements, and sometimes IGF-1 is represented as “deer velvet extract” (see OPSS FAQ on deer velvet). But not all dietary supplements with “IGF” in their name actually contain IGF-1, so it’s important to read labels carefully.

With regard to the military stance, please see the OPSS FAQ on banned supplements.

FAQ updated 19 May 2014