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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 4803156, 9 pages
Research Article

The Metabolic Syndrome, Inflammation, and Colorectal Cancer Risk: An Evaluation of Large Panels of Plasma Protein Markers Using Repeated, Prediagnostic Samples

Department of Radiation Sciences, Oncology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

Correspondence should be addressed to Bethany Van Guelpen

Received 15 December 2016; Accepted 27 February 2017; Published 22 March 2017

Academic Editor: Shengzhong Duan

Copyright © 2017 Sophia Harlid et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Metabolic syndrome (MetS), a set of metabolic risk factors including obesity, dysglycemia, and dyslipidemia, is associated with increased colorectal cancer (CRC) risk. A putative biological mechanism is chronic, low-grade inflammation, both a feature of MetS and a CRC risk factor. However, excess body fat also induces a proinflammatory state and increases CRC risk. In order to explore the relationship between MetS, body size, inflammation, and CRC, we studied large panels of inflammatory and cancer biomarkers. We included 138 participants from the Västerbotten Intervention Programme with repeated sampling occasions, 10 years apart. Plasma samples were analyzed for 178 protein markers by proximity extension assay. To identify associations between plasma protein levels and MetS components, linear mixed models were fitted for each protein. Twelve proteins were associated with at least one MetS component, six of which were associated with MetS score. MetS alone was not related to any protein. Instead, BMI displayed by far the strongest associations with the biomarkers. One of the 12 MetS score-related proteins (FGF-21), also associated with BMI, was associated with an increased CRC risk (OR 1.71, 95% CI 1.19–2.47). We conclude that overweight and obesity, acting through both inflammation and other mechanisms, likely explain the MetS-CRC connection.