The link between infections and cancer is becoming ever more robust, Elizabeth Tracey reports


Cancer and infectious disease are increasingly related, with one of the latest studies establishing a link between a common bacterial infection, Helicobacter pylori, specific genes, and stomach cancer. And it’s not just bacteria, says Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer center director William Nelson.

Nelson:  There’s a bunch of ways that infections can drive the appearance of cancer, right.  One of them is at the infectious agent like a virus can cause the cancer directly, human papilloma virus is an incredibly good example of this. Another is that you can have the infectious agent affect immunity generally, which can increase your risk to get other cancers. Then there are viruses that create a chronic inflammatory state. They’re all possible.  :26

Nelson says the breadth of ways infectious disease can ultimately result in cancers of various types make surveillance and prevention a tall order, but he says as genetic assessment of vulnerability becomes more common, identifying these links will become much more viable. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.