Cancer Epidemiol 2014 Apr 11;38(2):144-51. Epub 2014 Mar 11.
Epidemiology and Prevention Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Via Venezian 1, 20133 Milan, Italy. Electronic address:
Background: Dyslipidemia is an established risk factor for many diseases, but its effect on colorectal cancer risk is less clear. We investigated the association of colorectal cancer risk with plasma triglycerides, total, HDL, and LDL cholesterol in four Italian EPIC centers.
Methods: We conducted a case-cohort study on participants recruited to four Italian EPIC centers (Turin, Varese, Naples, and Ragusa; 34,148 subjects). A random subcohort of 850 subjects was obtained and 286 colorectal cancer cases were diagnosed. Triglycerides, total and HDL cholesterol were determined in plasma samples obtained at baseline and stored at -196°C; LDL cholesterol was calculated. Hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI), adjusted for potential confounders, were estimated by Cox regression models using the Prentice method.
Results: The highest tertiles of total (HR 1.66, 95%CI 1.12-2.45) and LDL cholesterol (HR 1.87, 95%CI 1.27-2.76) were associated with increased colorectal cancer risk compared to lowest tertiles. Risks were greater for men than women, and for postmenopausal than premenopausal women. Highest tertiles of total and LDL cholesterol were also significantly associated with increased risks of colon cancer, distal colon cancer, and rectal cancer, but not proximal colon cancer.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that high levels of total and LDL cholesterol increase colorectal cancer risk, particularly in men and postmenopausal women. However additional studies are needed to clarify the role of plasma lipids in these cancers, particularly in view of the conflicting findings of previous studies.