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Fasting Serum Levels of Potassium and Sodium in Relation to Long-Term Risk of Cancer in Healthy Men

Authors Falk RS, Heir T, Robsahm TE, Tretli S, Sandvik L, Erikssen JE, Paulsen JE

Received 20 May 2019

Accepted for publication 30 September 2019

Published 9 January 2020 Volume 2020:12 Pages 1—8


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Irene Petersen

Ragnhild S Falk,1 Trond Heir,2,3 Trude E Robsahm,4 Steinar Tretli,4 Leiv Sandvik,1 Jan E Erikssen,2 Jan E Paulsen5

1Oslo Centre for Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; 2Oslo Ischemia study, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; 3Institute of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway; 4Department of Research, Cancer Registry of Norway, Oslo, Norway; 5Department of Food Safety and Infection Biology, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Oslo, Norway

Correspondence: Ragnhild S Falk
Oslo Centre for Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Oslo University Hospital, Pb 4950 Nydalen, Oslo 0424, Norway
Tel +47 23 06 60 13

Purpose: To examine whether serum levels of potassium and sodium were associated with long-term cancer risk in initially healthy men.
Patients and Methods: A cohort of 1994 initially healthy men with no use of medication, aged 40–59 years, was followed for cancer during 40 years of follow-up. Associations between fasting electrolyte levels and cancer risk were assessed with incidence rates and Cox proportional hazards models.
Results: Potassium, but not sodium, was linearly associated with cancer risk. This association remained significant after adjustment of several potential confounding factors, and also after excluding the first 10 years of follow-up. The age-adjusted risk of all-site cancer increased with 16% for each SD increase in potassium level. Men with hyperkalemia showed an incidence rate that was 40% higher than for men with normal potassium levels.
Conclusion: Fasting serum potassium level in healthy men was positively associated with long-term cancer risk. Potassium or potassium ion channels may have a role in cell proliferation or differentiation. These findings might imply future cancer strategies for targeting individuals with high serum potassium levels.

Keywords: cancer incidence, cell proliferation, electrolyte levels, epidemiology, prospective cohort study

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