White Blood Cell Count and Risk of Gastric Cancer Incidence in a General Japanese Population: The Hisayama Study

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The authors examined the association between white blood cell (WBC) count and the development of gastric cancer in a 19-year follow-up study of 2,558 Japanese subjects aged ≥40 years (1988–2007). The subjects were stratified into 4 groups according to baseline WBC quartile (≤4.4, 4.5–5.2, 5.3–6.3, or ≥6.4 × 103 cells/μL). During follow-up, 128 subjects developed gastric cancer. The age- and sex-adjusted incidence of gastric cancer increased linearly with higher WBC level: 1.7, 2.6, 3.9, and 5.4 per 1,000 person-years, respectively, for the 4 quartile groups (P for trend < 0.01). The risk of gastric cancer was 2.22-fold (95% confidence interval: 1.19, 4.14) higher in the highest WBC quartile group than in the lowest group after adjustment for confounding factors. With respect to Helicobacter pylori infection status, H. pylori-seropositive subjects in the highest WBC quartile group showed a significantly greater risk of gastric cancer than those in the lower 3 quartile groups, whereas such an association was not observed in H. pylori-seronegative subjects. There was no evidence of heterogeneity in the association (P for heterogeneity = 0.65). The study findings suggest that higher WBC levels are a risk factor for gastric cancer, especially in subjects with H. pylori infection.

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