Background & aims: Gastrin is a putative promoter of colorectal carcinomas. The aim of this study was to evaluate the temporal relationship between gastrinemia and development of colorectal malignancy.
Methods: We conducted a nested case-control study among 128,992 subscribers to a health maintenance program who had participated in a multiphasic health checkup between 1964 and 1969. Serum had been frozen since the checkup and the cohort followed up for cancer. Of 1881 incident colorectal carcinoma cases, 250 were randomly selected; 1 control without cancer was matched to each case by age, sex, education, and date of serum collection. Stored sera were tested for Helicobacter pylori immunoglobulin G and for gastrin and glycine-extended gastrin.
Results: Verified cases included 166 colon cancers, 58 rectal cancers, and 9 with cancer in both locations. A mean of 15.3 years had elapsed between serum collection and diagnosis of cancer. Median gastrin levels were similar in cases and controls (41.7 vs. 40.7 pg/mL). However, a gastrin level above normal was associated with increased risk for colorectal malignancy (odds ratio, 3.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.5-9.8). If this association is causal, 8.6% of colorectal cancers could be attributed to high serum gastrin level.
Conclusions: Hypergastrinemia is associated with an increased risk of colorectal carcinoma.