Two Million Preventable Cancer Cases Worldwide

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An important landmark study has appeared in The Lancet Oncology asserting that as many as two million new cases of cancer worldwide-- or over 16 percent of all cases -- were caused by infections.

And since they were caused by infections, they are in many ways preventable.

Thus the syllogism says that many cancers are caused by infections. Infections are avoidable. Therefore, some cancers are avoidable.

Cancer related to specific types of infections

Researchers found that the majority of these cancer-causing infections were of the gut, liver, cervix and uterus.

Most of the infection-related cancers are indeed preventable, especially cancers linked to:

  • The bacterium Helicobacter pylori
  • The hepatitis B virus
  • The hepatitis C virus
  • Human papillomaviruses

Between these four avoidable agents, some 95%, or 1.9 million cases of infection-related cancer cases can be found.

The proportion of such cancer cases is some three higher in less developed countries (22.9%) than more developed countries (7.4%).

And within this overall picture there is a huge variation by region: for instance only 3.3% of new cancer cases were due to infection in Australia and New Zealand, compared to 32.7% in sub-Saharan Africa.

Worldwide, cervical cancer and uterine cancer from infection cause about half of the new cancer cases in women.

In men, liver and gut cancers account for over 80% of infection-related new cancer cases in men.

The really unbelievable thing is that there are available vaccines to protect one's self against:

  • Hepatitis B (associated with liver cancer.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV), associated with cervical cancer.

Meanwhile, some of these cancers-- notably, those caused by H. pylori bacteria, can be cured with antibiotics.

The authors of the study wrote:

"Application of existing public health methods for infection prevention such as vaccination, safer injection practice, or antimicrobial treatments, could have a substantial effect on the future burden of cancer worldwide."

Source: Medical News Today

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