Send to

Choose Destination
Korean J Fam Med. 2019 May;40(3):151-158. doi: 10.4082/kjfm.17.0089. Epub 2019 Jan 17.

Mild Anemia and Risk for All-Cause, Cardiovascular and Cancer Deaths in Apparently Healthy Elderly Koreans.

Author information

Department of Family Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Family Medicine, Sahmyook Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Health Screening Center, Center for Cohort Study, Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Seoul National University Graduate School of Public Health, Seoul, Korea.
Institute of Health and Environment, Seoul National University School of Public Health, Seoul, Korea.



Being common, mild anemia is sometimes considered a mere consequence of aging; however, aging alone is unlikely to lead to anemia. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the association between mild anemia and total mortality and cause-specific mortality in apparently healthy elderly subjects.


A retrospective cohort study was conducted on 10,114 apparently healthy elderly individuals who underwent cancer screening and routine medical check-ups at one Health Promotion Center between May 1995 and December 2007. We defined mild anemia as a hemoglobin concentration between 10.0 g/dL and 11.9 g/dL in women and between 10.0 g/dL and 12.9 g/dL in men. We assessed the relationship between the overall, cardiovascular (CV), and cancer mortality and mild anemia using Cox proportional hazard models.


Mild anemia was present in 143 men (3.1%) and 246 women (6.1%). During an average follow-up of 7.6 years, 495 deaths occurred, including 121 CV and 225 cancer deaths. After adjustments, mild anemia was associated with a 128% increase in the risk of all-cause mortality hazard ratio (HR, 2.28; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.54- 3.37) in men and cancer-related mortality (HR, 2.25; 95% CI, 1.22-4.13), particularly lung cancer (HR, 2.70; 95% CI, 1.03-7.08) in men, but not in women. In the subgroup analyses based on smoking status, obesity, and age, the associations were more prominent in never or former smoker groups and the older group.


The present study shows that overall and cancer-related mortality was associated with mild anemia in elderly men. Future prospective studies are needed to consolidate our findings.


Aged; Anemia; Cause of Death; Mortality

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Publishing M2Community Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center