Invited Commentary: Circulating Inflammation Markers and Cancer Risk—Implications for Epidemiologic Studies

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Chronic inflammation, an established risk factor for cardiovascular disease, is increasingly being recognized as an etiologic factor in several cancers. In this issue of the Journal, Touvier et al. (Am J Epidemiol. 2013;177(1):3–13) report on the association of 7 markers of inflammation, adiposity, and endothelial function with risk of overall cancer and breast and prostate cancers in a nested case-control study carried out within the SU.VI.MAX cohort (France, 1994–2007). Consistent with previous reports on this topic, Touvier et al. focused on a limited number of markers. Future studies of inflammation and cancer should be able to capitalize on emerging multiplexed methods for the simultaneous detection of larger numbers of inflammatory markers in low-volume specimens. This should allow a more comprehensive evaluation of the role of inflammation in cancer development. In this commentary, the authors review emerging methods for measurement of multiplexed inflammation markers, the design and analytic implications of the use of these methods in epidemiologic studies, and potential public health implications of such studies. Given that many large prospective cohort studies have already collected and banked serum/plasma samples, rapid gains in our understanding of chronic inflammation and its role in cancer etiology are possible.

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