Is C-reactive protein specific for vascular disease in women?

Ann Intern Med. 2002 Apr 2;136(7):529-33. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-136-7-200204020-00010.


Background: C-reactive protein (CRP) predicts risk for future cardiovascular events in asymptomatic individuals. However, because CRP also predicts total mortality, its specificity for vascular disease is uncertain.

Objective: To compare the predictive value of CRP for cancer and cardiovascular disease, the major determinants of mortality.

Design: Prospective, nested case-control study.

Setting: The Women's Health Study, an ongoing prospective cohort study involving 28345 U.S. women 45 years of age and older who were healthy at the time of enrollment.

Participants: 643 women who subsequently developed cancer or had cardiovascular events; 643 age- and smoking-matched women who remained free of either disease during 58-month follow-up.

Measurements: Baseline CRP levels.

Results: Little evidence showed that increasing quartiles of baseline CRP predicted incident cancer (adjusted relative risks, 1.0, 1.2, 1.1, and 1.3; P for trend > 0.2). In contrast, increasing quartiles of baseline CRP were a strong marker of risk for future cardiovascular disease (adjusted relative risks, 1.0, 2.9, 3.4, and 5.6; P for trend < 0.001).

Conclusion: C-reactive protein appears to independently predict cardiovascular events but not cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / blood*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / blood
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Biomarkers
  • C-Reactive Protein