Plasma C-peptide and glycated albumin and subsequent risk of cancer: From a large prospective case-cohort study in Japan

Int J Cancer. 2019 Feb 15;144(4):718-729. doi: 10.1002/ijc.31847. Epub 2018 Oct 30.


To elucidate the individual impacts of insulin and blood glucose on cancer risk, we investigated the association of plasma C-peptide, a surrogated marker of insulin and glycated albumin (GA), a more stable marker of blood glucose, with all-site and site-specific cancer risk by mutually accounting for their confounding effects. The study was prospectively conducted with nearly 4,000 cancer cases arising in our population-based cohort of 33,736 subjects who answered the baseline questionnaire and supplied blood samples. After exclusion of subjects with apparent DM, analysis was done in 3,036 cancer cases and 3,667 subcohort subjects. Among men and women combined, highest levels of C-peptide were statistically significantly associated with an increased risk of all-site [Hazard ratio (HR): 1.21; 95% confidence interval: 1.02-1.42], colon [1.73; 1.20-2.47], liver [3.23; 1.76-5.91], kidney, renal pelvis and ureter cancers [2.47; 1.07-5.69], compared to the respective lowest levels, after adjustment for GA levels. Among these C-peptide-related cancers, colon and liver cancers also showed an increased risk associated with elevated GA levels independently of C-peptide levels. The corresponding HRs for colon and liver cancers compared to the highest and lowest GA levels were 1.43 [1.02-2.00] and 2.02 [1.15-3.55], respectively. Effect modification by gender was only evident for the association between C-peptide and colon cancer (p for interaction = 0.04). Higher insulin levels, independently of higher blood glucose levels, may be relevant to DM-related carcinogenesis for several cancer sites. Examination of circulating insulin levels is a plausible option in evaluating cancer risk even in individuals who have not developed DM.

Keywords: C-peptide; cancer risk; glycated albumin; prospective study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Asian People
  • C-Peptide / blood*
  • Female
  • Glycated Serum Albumin
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / blood*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Serum Albumin / metabolism*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*


  • C-Peptide
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced
  • Serum Albumin
  • Glycated Serum Albumin