Millions of cancer deaths 'caused by preventable infections'

9 May 2012

Millions of people die from cancer each year due to infections which are potentially preventable and treatable, according to new research.

A study led by Dr Catherine de Martel and Dr Martyn Plummer have found in their analysis that bacteria, viruses and parasites cause around two million cases of the disease on an annual basis.

The pair of scientists, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, also highlighted that of the 7.5 million deaths which were recorded around the globe due to cancer in 2008, around 1.5 million may have been treatable or prevented from developing in the first place.

"Application of existing public-health methods for infection prevention, such as vaccination, safer injection practice, or antimicrobial treatments, could have a substantial effect on future burden of cancer worldwide," Dr De Martel and Dr Plummer wrote in The Lancet Oncology journal.

Results of the research come soon after scientists at Cancer Research UK and Leicester's National Institute for Health Research Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre suggested that curcumin – a compound found in the spice turmeric – may thwart the development of bowel cancer.

Posted by Edward Bartel


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