A prospective study of plasma inflammatory markers and risk of colorectal cancer in men

M. Song, K. Wu, S. Ogino, C. S. Fuchs, E. L. Giovannucci, A. T. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Background: Chronic inflammation may mediate risk of colorectal cancer (CRC); however, the association between circulating inflammatory markers and risk of CRC has been inconsistent. Methods: We prospectively evaluated the association of plasma C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and the soluble tumour necrosis factor receptor 2 (sTNFR-2) with incident CRC among 274 cases and 532 matched controls nested in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Results: Multivariate relative risk (RR) of CRC comparing the extreme quartiles of plasma IL-6 was 1.54 (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.99-2.40; Ptrend =0.02). However, after excluding cases diagnosed within 2 years of blood draw, this association was not statistically significant (RR=1.26, 95% CI, 0.78-2.05; Ptrend =0.21). In analyses restricted to cases diagnosed at least 2 years after blood draw, the association of IL-6 with CRC appeared to differ by body mass index such that the significantly positive association was only present among lean individuals (Pinteraction=0. 03). We did not observe any significant association between CRP or sTNFR-2 and CRC. Conclusion: Plasma inflammatory markers are not generally associated with risk of CRC among men. However, the possibility that plasma IL-6 is associated with increased risk of CRC among lean men requires further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1891-1898
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number9
StatePublished - 14 May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Body mass index
  • C-reactive protein
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Interleukin-6
  • Soluble tumour necrosis factor receptor 2


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