Background:Methylation of repetitive elements Alu and LINE-1 in humans is considered a surrogate for global DNA methylation. Previous studies of blood-measured Alu/LINE-1 and cancer risk are inconsistent.Methods:We studied 1259 prospective methylation measurements from blood drawn 1-4 times from 583 participants from 1999 to 2012. We used Cox regression to evaluate time-dependent methylation as a biomarker for cancer risk and mortality, and linear regression to compare mean differences in methylation over time by cancer status and analyse associations between rate of methylation change and cancer.Results:Time-dependent LINE-1 methylation was associated with prostate cancer incidence (HR: 1.38, 95% CI: 1.01-1.88) and all-cancer mortality (HR: 1.41, 95% CI: 1.03-1.92). The first measurement of Alu methylation (HR: 1.39, 95% CI: 1.08-1.79) was associated with all-cancer mortality. Participants who ultimately developed cancer had lower mean LINE-1 methylation than cancer-free participants 10+ years pre-diagnosis (P<0.01). Rate of Alu methylation change was associated with all-cancer incidence (HR: 3.62, 95% CI: 1.09-12.10).Conclusions:Our results add longitudinal data on blood Alu and LINE-1 methylation and cancer, and potentially contribute to their use as early-detection biomarkers. Future larger studies are needed and should account for the interval between blood sample collection and cancer diagnosis.