Associations of circulating C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 with cancer risk: findings from two prospective cohorts and a meta-analysis
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We investigated the associations of circulating C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) with cancer risk.
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.
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.
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.
KeywordsCancer Inflammation C-reactive protein Interleukin-6 Meta-analysis
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.
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