Infection may be a Cause of Cancer

A researcher looks into viral infections as a cause of lymphoma:

A leading medical researcher says there is increasing evidence to suggest cancers like lymphoma and leukaemia are caused by infections.

"Professor Emeritus Harald zur Hausen, who is visiting Australia, was a joint winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work on the role viruses play in causing cervical cancer.

This work also led to the development of the cervical cancer vaccine.

The former scientific director of the German Cancer Research Centre is now working on pin-pointing other cancers that are caused by infections, whether viral, bacterial, or parasitic.

Professor zur Hausen says evidence is mounting to suggest lymphoma and leukaemia can be caused this way.

"There's some likelihood that if infections are involved they are transmitted, as we say, vertically, which means from the mother to the unborn baby, and in those cases you would anticipate that this newborn baby would not react immunologically against the respective infection," he said.

Professor zur Hausen says people living in Western societies seem to be at particular risk.

"There's some interesting notions which have been made in the past, namely that frequent infections in the first year of life with well known respiratory tract viruses for instance shows some kind of protective effect against developing leukemias," he said.

"Countries with a high standard of life, like Australia, have a relatively high incidence of childhood leukemias.

"Whereas is in the opposite way, countries with a low standard, with low socio-economic conditions, have a relatively low rate of these types of leukemias.""

Read More: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/11/10/3061991.htm

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