Measuring blood levels of high-sensitive C-reactive protein, an important marker of inflammation, in apparently cancer-free men could potentially help identify those at increased risk for death from cancer, in particular lung cancer, according to data published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
"Inflammation has been linked to the initiation and progression of several types of cancer, as well as to the progression of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease," said Minseon Park, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the Center for Health Promotion at Seoul National University Hospital in South Korea. "We wanted to determine whether there was a relationship between a well-established marker of inflammation, high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), and death from all causes, death from cancer or death from a site-specific cancer in Koreans."
Park and colleagues retrospectively analyzed data from 33,556 individuals who had completed medical checkups, answered questions on cancer-related behavioral factors (like smoking status and exercise habits) and had been screened for blood hs-CRP at the health-screening center at Seoul National University Hospital between May 1995 and December 2006. During an average follow-up of 9.4 years, 1,054 deaths from all causes and 506 deaths from cancer were recorded.
When the researchers adjusted for several variables, including age, diabetes, smoking status and exercise habits, men with the highest level of hs-CRP in their blood (3 mg per liter or more) were 38 percent more likely to have died from any cause compared with men with the lowest hs-CRP level (1 mg per liter or less). They were also 61 percent more likely to have died from cancer.
For women, after adjusting for a number of variables, no statistically significant association was observed for hs-CRP level and death from any cause or death from cancer.