Chronic inflammation has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many common chronic diseases, including cancer. C-reactive protein (CRP) concentration is a non-specific serum marker of inflammation, and higher levels have been observed among individuals who go on to develop cardiovascular disease. Nested case-control studies were conducted within the CLUE II study, a community-based cohort, to examine the association between CRP concentrations and subsequent development of colorectal or prostate cancer. CRP concentrations were higher among individuals who went on to develop colon cancer, but not rectal or prostate cancer, compared with controls. The association between CRP concentrations and development of colon cancer is consistent with other evidence suggesting a role of inflammation and cancer. Preventive interventions that decrease systemic chronic inflammation have the potential to reduce certain types of cancer as well as cardiovascular disease. However, the potential benefits of anti-inflammatory chemopreventive agents must be weighed against their adverse effects before widespread use is recommended.