A longitudinal study of serum insulin and glucose levels in relation to colorectal cancer risk among postmenopausal women

G. C. Kabat, M. Y. Kim, H. D. Strickler, J. M. Shikany, D. Lane, J. Luo, Y. Ning, M. J. Gunter, T. E. Rohan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


Background: It is unclear whether circulating insulin or glucose levels are associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer. Few prospective studies have examined this question, and only one study had repeated measurements. Methods: We conducted a prospective study of colorectal cancer risk using the subsample of women in the Women's Health Initiative study whose fasting blood samples, collected at baseline and during follow-up, were analysed for insulin and glucose. Cox proportional hazards models were used to assess associations with colorectal cancer risk in both baseline and time-dependent covariates analyses. Results: Among 4902 non-diabetic women with baseline fasting serum insulin and glucose values, 81 incident cases of colorectal cancer were identified over 12 years of follow-up. Baseline glucose levels were positively associated with colorectal cancer and colon cancer risk: multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio (HR) comparing the highest (>99.5 mg dl -1) with the lowest tertile (<89.5 mg dl -1): 1.74, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.97-3.15 and 2.25, 95% CI: 1.12-4.51, respectively. Serum insulin and homeostasis model assessment were not associated with risk. Analyses of repeated measurements supported the baseline results. Conclusion: These data suggest that elevated serum glucose levels may be a risk factor for colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-232
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 3 2012



  • colorectal cancer
  • glucose
  • homeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance
  • serum insulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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