Clinical biomarker-based biological aging and risk of cancer in the UK Biobank

Jonathan K.L. Mak, Christopher E. McMurran, Ralf Kuja-Halkola, Per Hall, Kamila Czene, Juulia Jylhävä, Sara Hägg

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Background: Despite a clear link between aging and cancer, there has been inconclusive evidence on how biological age (BA) may be associated with cancer incidence. Methods: We studied 308,156 UK Biobank participants with no history of cancer at enrolment. Using 18 age-associated clinical biomarkers, we computed three BA measures (Klemera-Doubal method [KDM], PhenoAge, homeostatic dysregulation [HD]) and assessed their associations with incidence of any cancer and five common cancers (breast, prostate, lung, colorectal, and melanoma) using Cox proportional-hazards models. Results: A total of 35,426 incident cancers were documented during a median follow-up of 10.9 years. Adjusting for common cancer risk factors, 1-standard deviation (SD) increment in the age-adjusted KDM (hazard ratio = 1.04, 95% confidence interval = 1.03–1.05), age-adjusted PhenoAge (1.09, 1.07–1.10), and HD (1.02, 1.01–1.03) was significantly associated with a higher risk of any cancer. All BA measures were also associated with increased risks of lung and colorectal cancers, but only PhenoAge was associated with breast cancer risk. Furthermore, we observed an inverse association between BA measures and prostate cancer, although it was attenuated after removing glycated hemoglobin and serum glucose from the BA algorithms. Conclusions: Advanced BA quantified by clinical biomarkers is associated with increased risks of any cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-103
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Early online dateApr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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