One in six cancer cases worldwide are caused by infections

One in every six cancers is caused by an infection that is preventable or treatable,  according to a recent study.

Researchers at the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France, found that four infections – the human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B and C and Helicobacter pylori – alone are responsible for two million (16%) of the 12.7 million cancer cases diagnosed worldwide each year.

In women, cancer of the cervix, most of which is attributable to HPV, is half of cancer cases caused by infection in women. Among men, cancers of the digestive system and liver, associated with Helicobacter pylori and hepatitis B, more than 80% of cases.

Nearly a third of cancers arising from infection affects individuals younger than 50 years.

To reach these conclusions, the scientists analyzed the prevalence of 27 cancers in 184 different countries.

According to them, methods to prevent infections, such as vaccinations, antimicrobial treatments and safe practices in injection, could greatly reduce the prevalence of these cancers.

The results of this work were published in the journal Lancet Oncology.


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