Affordable Access

DNA methylation age as a biomarker for cancer

  • Robinson, O
  • Lau, C
Publication Date
Dec 15, 2020
Spiral - Imperial College Digital Repository


Cancer is well established as an age‐associated disease, and there is substantial overlap in the molecular, cellular and physiological changes observed with both ageing and the progression of cancer. Age‐specific declines in resilience mechanisms such as DNA repair or epigenetic maintenance may contribute to the development of cancer. These declines may be assessed through biomarkers that measure biological age and through the related concept of “age acceleration”. Epigenetic clocks, assessed through DNA methylation levels, are among the most widely used biological age markers in cancer studies. In this review, we discuss the use of DNA methylation ageing measures to predict population cancer incidence, mortality and survival. Blood‐based DNA methylation age estimators appear to be promising measures of increased cancer risk and mortality, although their reported effects are generally weak, thus its clinical relevance remains to be validated in large case‐cohort and longitudinal studies. Future development of epigenetic and other biological age biomarkers will likely further elucidate the links between ageing and cancer.

Report this publication


Seen <100 times