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Cancer and Infection

A new study finds that largely preventable viral, bacterial and parasitic infections cause about two million new cancer cases and 1.5 million deaths each year.

The study involved statistical analysis of cancer incidence and found that 16 percent of all cancers diagnoses in 2008 were related to infections. Further, the study also found that the proportion of cancers linked to infection was three times higher in developing countries.

The researchers used information from a number of sources including a cancer-incidence database covering 27 cancers from 184 countries.

Main cancer causing agents include HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), Helicobacter pylori and Hepatitis B and C viruses. These four agents are responsible for 1.9 million cases of gastric, liver and cervical cancers.

Cervical cancer accounts for more than half of infection-related cancers in women. In men, more than 80% of infection-related cancers affect the liver, stomach and colon.

The study was conducted by Dr Catherine de Martel and Dr Martyn Plummer, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France. The results of the study were published in The Lancet Oncology Journal.

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