C-Reactive Protein Levels in Multiple Myeloma

Last week a multiple myeloma listserv member posted a ScienceDaily article that initially puzzled me. The article (http://tinyurl.com/2k3acf) begins: Scientists report that a protein best known as a common marker of inflammation plays a key role in the progression of human cancer. The research, published by Cell Press in the September issue of the journal Cancer Cell, implicates C-reactive protein (CRP) as a potential target for cancer treatment. Well, that didn’t seem like breaking news to me. One of my regular blood tests measures my serum levels of CRP, and I know that it’s a myeloma marker. But then I read the showstopper: These results provide strong evidence that CRP is not just a marker for MM but is a critical regulator of myeloma cell survival.

Not good.

Reading on, this protein protects myeloma cells from the effects of chemotherapy and also enhances their production of IL-6 (an evil cytokine that protects myeloma cells from dying). So CRP and IL-6 work together to keep myeloma cells alive, in a sort of vicious circle. Also not good.

As I was reading this article and then the study abstract (http://tinyurl.com/2xop56), a question popped into my mind: are there any natural ways to decrease our CRP levels? The answer is YES. However, since this is a complex topic, both to understand and to investigate, and since my research has led me a bit astray (all over the place, actually!) given the overwhelming amount of information, I chose to post some of what I found out by degrees.

Let’s start with the C-Reactive Protein. What is it? In essence, it’s a protein produced by the liver and released into the bloodstream when there is an ongoing inflammatory process in the body. It is a non-specific marker for inflammation: an elevated CRP level indicates inflammation but won’t tell us where exactly it is located. So we might have high CRP levels due to a simple cold, arthritis or some type of infection. The above-mentioned abstract reports that Elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) are present in many disease situations including malignancies and may contribute to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disorders. I didn’t know that an elevated CRP is a indicator also of cardiovascular problems, hypertension and other types of cancer (prostate, hepatocellular, e.g.) until I did research for this blog piece. Indeed, one interesting item that I came across is that people at risk of developing heart trouble or a stroke may, strangely enough, have normal LDL cholesterol levels but a high CRP. Quite an important recent discovery! Anyway, I double-checked my own CRP levels, which have never been above 9 mg/L (that is the normal range). The problem with this test, at least in Italy, is that it doesn’t quantify CRP. It simply reports that I have less than 9 mg of this protein in my blood. I prefer to have precise figures, so this test does not satisfy me at all. Besides, I noticed that in 2005 I had.5 mg, so at one point it WAS an actual number. Puzzling.

So we go back to the question of how to reduce CRP levels by natural means. I will give one example before stopping for the day (I have to get ready for my classes tomorrow). I found a couple of recent studies showing that one way to reduce CRP levels may be to increase our daily fiber intake. See: http://tinyurl.com/23hd2p and http://tinyurl.com/3xldst. That’s it for today!


  1. I just Googled CRP and celiac, looking for a connection because we have a celiac in our family (our son). No connection, but there seems to be an inverse relation between vegetarian (or vegan) and CRP. Cut out the meat and CRP goes down, surely a natural means!

    Maybe I didn’t look far enough. I wonder what your research will come up with. But if it is true, perhaps there is a less drastic measure that would also help without switching entirely away from meat.


  2. That’s interesting Don. My son is diabetic. There is often a connection with celiac and diabetes and it’s something I’ve been wondering about for myself. We are vegetarians by the way and there are a few things you have to be careful of eg B12 deficiency and also omega 3 – I take flax seed oil.

  3. Margaret, may I ask minnesotadon a question? You and I are the only two people in the world that I know with IgG Lambda! I clicked onto your blog but unlike Margaret’s Corner, I see no place for comments. I’m new at this! How may I reach you for questions?

  4. I have Ig G kappa MGUS. My c-reactive protein used to run 2 to 3 times what is considered to be the normal maximum. Then I started taking 6 grams of fish oil daily and 600 mg alpha lipoic acid daily, and my c-reactive protein fell down into the normal range. I have now reduced the fish oil to 4 grams a day, and we’ll see what the next blood tests show.

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