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.