Chronic inflammation could play a role in lung carcinogenesis, underscoring the potential for lung cancer prevention and screening. We investigated the association of circulating high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP, an inflammation biomarker) and CRP single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with prospective lung cancer risk.
Patients and Methods
We conducted a nested case-control study of 592 lung cancer patients and 670 controls with available prediagnostic serum and 378 patients and 447 controls with DNA within the screening arm of the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (N = 77,464). Controls were matched to patients on age, sex, entry year, follow-up time, and smoking. We measured CRP levels in baseline serum samples and genotyped five common CRP SNPs.
Elevated CRP levels were associated with increased lung cancer risk (odds ratio [OR], 1.98; 95% CI, 1.35 to 2.89; P-trend < .001 for fourth quartile [Q4, ≥ 5.6 mg/L] v Q1 [< 1.0 mg/L]). The CRP association did not differ significantly by histology, follow-up time, or smoking status, but was most apparent for squamous cell carcinomas (OR, 2.92; 95% CI, 1.30 to 6.54), 2 to 5 years before lung cancer diagnosis (OR, 2.33; 95% CI, 1.24 to 4.39), and among former smokers (OR, 2.48; 95% CI, 1.53 to 4.03) and current smokers (OR, 1.90; 95% CI, 1.06 to 3.41). Although CRP SNPs and haplotypes were associated with CRP levels, they were not associated with lung cancer risk. Ten-year standardized absolute risks of lung cancer were higher with elevated CRP levels among former smokers (Q4: 2.55%; 95% CI, 1.98% to 3.27% v Q1: 1.39%; 95% CI, 1.07% to 1.81%) and current smokers (Q4: 7.37%; 95% CI, 5.81% to 9.33% v Q1: 4.03%; 95% CI, 3.01% to 5.40%).
Elevated CRP levels are associated with subsequently increased lung cancer risk, suggesting an etiologic role for chronic pulmonary inflammation in lung carcinogenesis.