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J Korean Med Sci. 2011 Jun;26(6):759-64. doi: 10.3346/jkms.2011.26.6.759. Epub 2011 May 18.

Carcinoembryonic antigen level can be overestimated in metabolic syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Family Practice and Community Health, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, Korea.


Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) levels can be affected by many factors and metabolic syndrome is also a candidate. This study examined the relationship between CEA levels and metabolic syndrome using the data of 32,897 healthy Koreans. Fecal occult blood tests were also performed. Subjects with colorectal carcinoma were excluded. Subjects were classified by their smoking status, metabolic syndrome and its components. Prevalence of metabolic syndrome and its all components showed a significant increase according to the quartile of serum CEA concentration (P < 0.001). Increased numbers of metabolic syndrome components showed a positive association with CEA levels (P-trend < 0.001). The odds ratios for the highest CEA quartile vs the lowest serum CEA quartile significantly increased in the presence of metabolic syndrome and its components. After adjusting for age, gender and smoking status, metabolic syndrome, low high density lipoprotein cholesterol and elevated blood pressure had higher odds ratios (OR) of the highest CEA quartile compared with the lowest serum CEA quartile (OR = 1.125, 95% CI = 1.030 to 1.222, P = 0.009; OR = 1.296, 95% CI = 1.195 to 1.405, P < 0.001; OR = 1.334, 95% CI = 1.229 to 1.448, P < 0.001, respectively). These results indicate that metabolic syndrome is associated with CEA value, which may lead to a misunderstanding of the CEA levels.


Carcinoembryonic Antigen; Metabolic Syndrome; Smoking

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