Other than the influence of ionizing radiation and benign thyroid disease, little is known about the risk factors for differentiated thyroid cancer (TC) which is an increasing common cancer worldwide. Consistent evidence shows that body mass is positively associated with TC risk. As excess weight is a state of chronic inflammation, we investigated the relationship between concentrations of leptin, adiponectin, C-reactive protein, interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and the risk of TC. A case-control study was nested within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study and included 475 first primary incident TC cases (399 women and 76 men) and 1,016 matched cancer-free cohort participants. Biomarkers were measured in serum samples using validated and highly sensitive commercially available immunoassays. Odds ratios (ORs) of TC by levels of each biomarker were estimated using conditional logistic regression models, adjusting for BMI and alcohol consumption. Adiponectin was inversely associated with TC risk among women (ORT3vs.T1 = 0.69, 95% CI: 0.49-0.98, Ptrend = 0.04) but not among men (ORT3vs.T1 = 1.36, 95% CI: 0.67-2.76, Ptrend = 0.37). Increasing levels of IL-10 were positively associated with TC risk in both genders and significantly so in women (ORT3vs.T1 = 1.59, 95% CI: 1.13-2.25, Ptrend = 0.01) but not in men (ORT3vs.T1 = 1.78, 95% CI: 0.80-3.98, Ptrend = 0.17). Leptin, CRP, IL-6 and TNF-α were not associated with TC risk in either gender. These results indicate a positive association of TC risk with IL-10 and a negative association with adiponectin that is probably restricted to women. Inflammation may play a role in TC in combination with or independently of excess weight.
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