Measles, HPV may contribute to Lung Cancer Risk

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Viruses found in lung tumours

The association between viruses and various types of cancer has been well established.

As much as 20% of the world’s cancers have been linked to infections. In addition to the connection between HPVs and cervical cancer, chronic infections by hepatitis-B and -C viruses contribute to liver cancer, and the bacterium Helicobacter pylori has been associated with stomach cancer.

There is now evidence of another pathogen actor, this time in some types of lung cancer:

Samuel Ariad of the Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva, Israel, and his colleagues began by analyzing tumours taken from 65 lung cancer patients. They found evidence of measles virus proteins in about half of their samples.

In addition, Arash Rezazadeh of the University of Louisville in Kentucky and his colleagues tested 23 lung cancer tumours for HPVs. In five cases, the samples tested positive for the virus’s DNA. Others have previously shown a possible link between the virus and lung cancer, but, as in this case, have relied on small sample sizes.

It is hoped that widespread use of the HPV vaccine Gardasil® will positively impact rates of lung cancer but at this stage it is unverified. It will likely take a generation to see any statistical evidence of the effect.