Does Inflammation Contribute to Cancer Incidence and Mortality during Aging? A Conceptual Review

Cancers (Basel). 2022 Mar 23;14(7):1622. doi: 10.3390/cancers14071622.


Aging is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation, cancer incidence and mortality. As inflammation contributes to cancer initiation and progression, one could hypothesize that age-associated chronic low-grade inflammation contributes to the increase in cancer incidence and/or mortality observed during aging. Here, we review the evidence supporting this hypothesis: (1) epidemiological associations between biomarkers of systemic inflammation and cancer incidence and mortality in older people, (2) therapeutic clues suggesting that targeting inflammation could reduce cancer incidence and mortality and (3) experimental evidence from animal models highlighting inflammation as a link between various mechanisms of aging and cancer initiation and progression. Despite a large body of literature linking aging, inflammation and cancer, convincing evidence for the clear implication of specific inflammatory pathways explaining cancer incidence or mortality during aging is still lacking. Further dedicated research is needed to fill these gaps in evidence and pave the way for the development of applications in clinical care.

Keywords: aging; biomarkers; cancer; cell senescence; inflammation; older persons.

Publication types

  • Review