Background: In patients with cancer, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is elevated and is a predictor of prognosis. We investigated whether serum HGF was a predictive marker for cancer death in a population of communitydwelling Japanese. Methods: We studied 1492 apparently healthy Japanese adults who underwent health examinations in 1999. Those who reported a history of liver disease or malignancy on a baseline questionnaire were excluded, and plasma HGF was measured in the remaining 1470 participants, who were followed periodically for 10 years. Multivariate proportional hazards regression was used to estimate cancer mortality. Results: A total of 169 participants died during follow-up (61 from cancer, 32 from cerebrocardiovascular disease, and 76 from other diseases). Mean HGF at baseline was significantly higher among decedents than among survivors (0.26 ± 0.11 vs 0.23 ± 0.09 ng/ml, respectively; P < 0.01). The Cox proportional hazards model showed that age, systolic blood pressure, HGF (hazard ratio, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.06-1.52; P = 0.009), albumin level, smoking status, and creatinine were independent predictors of all-cause death. Age, HGF (hazard ratio, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.04-1.65; P = 0.02), and total cholesterol were independent predictive markers for cancer death. Conclusions: Serum HGF was a predictor of cancer death in an apparently healthy population of communitydwelling Japanese.
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