Objective Pro-inflammatory mechanisms may explain the increased ovarian cancer risk linked to more lifetime ovulations, endometriosis, and exposure to talc and asbestos, as well as decreased risk with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Limited data are available to estimate ovarian cancer risk associated with levels of circulating inflammatory markers.
Methods We conducted a nested case-control study within the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Pre-diagnostic serum levels of 46 inflammation-related biomarkers (11 with a priori hypotheses; 35 agnostic) were measured in 149 incident ovarian cancer cases and 149 matched controls. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using conditional logistic regression and adjusted for identified covariates.
Results Increased ovarian cancer risk was associated with elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) [tertile (T)3 vs. T1: OR (95% CI) 2.04 (1.06-3.93), p-trend = 0.03], interleukin (IL)-1α [detectable vs. undetectable: 2.23 (1.14-4.34)] and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) [T3 vs. T1: 2.21 (1.06-4.63), p-trend = 0.04]. Elevated IL-8 was non-significantly associated with risk [T3 vs. T1: 1.86 (0.96-3.61), p-trend = 0.05]. In analyses restricted to serous ovarian cancer (n = 83), the associations with CRP and IL-8 remained or strengthened [CRP T3 vs. T1: 3.96 (1.14-11.14), p-trend = 0.008; IL-8 T3 vs. T1: 3.05 (1.09-8.51), p-trend = 0.03]. Elevated levels of CRP and TNF-α remained positively associated with ovarian cancer risk in analysis restricted to specimens collected at least 5 years before diagnosis (n = 56).
Conclusion These results suggest that CRP, IL-1α, IL-8, and TNF-α are associated with increased risk of subsequently developing ovarian cancer.
- Circulating inflammation markers
- Nested case-control study
- Ovarian cancer
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology