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Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 15–26 | Cite as

Associations of circulating C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 with cancer risk: findings from two prospective cohorts and a meta-analysis

  • Katriina Heikkilä
  • Ross Harris
  • Gordon Lowe
  • Ann Rumley
  • John Yarnell
  • John Gallacher
  • Yoav Ben-Shlomo
  • Shah Ebrahim
  • Debbie A. LawlorEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

Objective

We investigated the associations of circulating C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) with cancer risk.

Methods

We examined the associations of CRP and IL-6 with incident cancer in two prospective cohorts, the British Women’s Heart and Health Study (4,286 women aged 60–80) and the Caerphilly Cohort (2,398 men aged 45–59) using Cox regression and pooled our findings with previous prospective studies’ in fixed and random effects meta-analyses.

Results

CRP and IL-6 were associated with some incident cancers in our cohorts, but the numbers of cancer cases were small. In our meta-analyses elevated CRP was associated with an increased overall risk of cancer (random effects estimate (RE): 1.10, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.18) and lung cancer (RE: 1.32, 95% CI: 1.08, 1.61). Its associations with colorectal (RE: 1.09, 95% CI: 0.98, 1.21) and breast cancer risks (RE: 1.10, 95% CI: 0.97, 1.26) were weaker. CRP appeared unrelated to prostate cancer risk (RE: 1.00 0.88, 1.13). IL-6 was associated with increased lung and breast cancer risks and decreased prostate cancer risk, and was unrelated to colorectal cancer risk.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest an etiological role for CRP and IL-6 in some cancers. Further large prospective and genetic studies would help to better understand this role.

Keywords

Cancer Inflammation C-reactive protein Interleukin-6 Meta-analysis 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The BWHHS is co-directed by Peter Whincup and Goya Wannamethee in addition to Shah Ebrahim and Debbie Lawlor. We thank Rita Patel, Carol Bedford, Alison Emerton, Nicola Frecknall, Karen Jones, Mark Taylor, Simone Watson, and Katherine Wornell for collecting and entering data; all the general practitioners and their staff who have supported data collection; and the women who have participated in the study. We also thank Karen Craig, Estelle Poorhang, and Paul Welsh for technical assistance with the CRP and IL-6 assays. The BWHHS is funded by the Department of Health. Grants from the British Heart Foundation supported CRP and IL6 assays. Debbie Lawlor is funded by a (UK) Department of Health career scientist award and when this work was conducted, Katriina Heikkilä was funded by the (UK) Medical Research Council PhD Studentship.

Conflict of interest

None declared. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily those of any funding body.

Supplementary material

10552_2008_9212_MOESM1_ESM.doc (152 kb)
MOESM1 (DOC 152 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katriina Heikkilä
    • 1
  • Ross Harris
    • 1
  • Gordon Lowe
    • 2
  • Ann Rumley
    • 2
  • John Yarnell
    • 3
  • John Gallacher
    • 4
  • Yoav Ben-Shlomo
    • 1
  • Shah Ebrahim
    • 5
  • Debbie A. Lawlor
    • 1
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Social MedicineUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.Division of Cardiovascular and Medical SciencesUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowScotland, UK
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthQueen’s University BelfastBelfastIreland, UK
  4. 4.Cardiff University School of MedicineCardiffWales, UK
  5. 5.London School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineLondonUK
  6. 6.MRC Centre of Causal Analyses in Translational EpidemiologyUniversity of BristolBristolUK

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