Wednesday, May 9, 2012

'One in six cancers worldwide are caused by infection'

Cancer as a communicable disease? Whoah!

We've known that the HPV virus (really the HP virus, but that sounds strange) causes cervical cancer, but I definitely didn't appreciate how large of a proportion of cancers are caused by infections (17%). Given that there's a lot about cancer that we don't know, plus stories like the one quoted above from the BBC, and the current story of the Tasmanian Devil facial tumors being spread through infections, one has to wonder if the much more than 17% of cancers are caused by infections.

The counter point is that cancer rates tend to be higher in the first world, and the first world tends to have more cleanliness/less communicable disease, and therefore likely less instances of the spread of infectious disease. Hmmmm.

The good news here is that there are effective vaccines for two of the infectious cancer-causers (HPV and HBV.) Perhaps this is another argument for Bjorn Lomborg's point of view that in lieu of investing in anti-global warming measures, we'd make the world a much better place by investing instead in global health.

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