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Metabolic serum biomarkers for the prediction of cancer: a follow-up of the studies conducted in the Swedish AMORIS study

The Swedish Apolipoprotein MOrtality RISk study (AMORIS) contains information on more than 500 biomarkers collected from 397,443 men and 414,630 women from the greater Stockholm area during the period 1985–1996. Using a ten-digit personal identification code, this database has been linked to Swedish national registries, which provide data on socioeconomic status, vital status, cancer diagnosis, comorbidity, and emigration. Within AMORIS, 18 studies assessing risk of overall and site-specific cancers have been published, utilising a range of serum markers representing glucose and lipid metabolism, immune system, iron metabolism, liver metabolism, and bone metabolism. This review briefly summarises these findings in relation to more recently published studies and provides an overview of where we are today and the challenges of observational studies when studying cancer risk prediction.

Overall, more recent observational studies supported previous findings obtained in AMORIS, although no new results have been reported for serum fructosamine and inorganic phosphate with respect to cancer risk. A drawback of using serum markers in predicting cancer risk is the potential fluctuations following other pathological conditions, resulting in non-specificity and imprecision of associations observed. Utilisation of multiple combination markers may provide more specificity, as well as give us repeated instead of single measurements. Associations with other diseases may also necessitate further analytical strategies addressing effects of serum markers on competing events in addition to cancer. Finally, delineating the role of serum metabolic markers may generate valuable information to complement emerging clinical studies on preventive effects of drugs and supplements targeting metabolic disorders against cancer.

Keywords: cancer, serum lipids, serum glucose, C-reactive protein, leukocytes, IgE, calcium, iron, gamma-glutamyl transferase

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Author interviews

Mieke van Hemelrijck

Kings College London, UK

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European Cancer Organisation European Institute of Oncology

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Foundazione Umberto Veronesi Fondazione IEO Swiss Bridge

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Cancer Intelligence