BACKGROUND: Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a serological marker of malignant tumors, demonstrates a modest increase under nonmalignant conditions and the pro-inflammatory features of CEA suggest that CEA may be related to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
METHODS: A total of 7075 female Korean non-smokers who underwent health check-ups were analyzed in the present study. The interquartile cutoff values for serum CEA concentrations were 0.39, 0.84, and 1.40 ng/ml.
RESULTS: The prevalence of metabolic syndrome increased significantly with the increasing CEA quartiles, and the age-adjusted mean CEA concentration increased consistently with each additional component of metabolic syndrome. Logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, alcohol intake, exercise, body mass index, total cholesterol, WBC count, and hsCRP showed that the third and fourth CEA quartiles were associated with metabolic syndrome with odds ratios of 1.29 (95% CI 1.07 to 1.63 P<0.001) and 1.39 (95% CI 1.10 to 1.66, P<0.001), respectively.
CONCLUSION: In female Korean non-smokers, serum CEA was independently associated with metabolic syndrome. The pathophysiologic and clinical significance of these findings requires further investigation.