Department of Geriatric Medicine, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan
Background: High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) levels are lower in Japanese compared with Western subjects. Since it is uncertain whether hsCRP is a potent predictor of mortality at low CRP concentrations, the present study examined associations with all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a large population of Japanese. Materials and Methods: Subjects were 4,737 men and 6,343 women aged 49-76 years participating in the baseline survey of an ongoing cohort study of lifestyle-related diseases between February 2004 and July 2006. Hazard ratios for all-cause and cause-specific mortality associated with hsCRP levels were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression. Results: A total of 436 all-cause deaths occurred during a median follow- up of 8 years. The main cause of death was cancer. In men, hsCRP levels were positively associated with the risk of all-cause mortality as well as deaths from cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD). All-cause mortality hazards for the 2nd (0.34-0.84 mg/L) and the 3rd ( 0.85 mg/L) tertiles of hsCRP were 1.27 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.93-1.73) and 1.75 (1.30-2.37), respectively (p for trend=0.001). In women, increased risk of all- cause and cause-specific mortality associated with elevated hsCRP levels was observed, but the associations were not statistically significant. Conclusions: HsCRP may be an independent predictor of all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality in apparently healthy Japanese men, but not women. The differential effect of hsCRP in predicting mortality risk by sex warrants further investigation.