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Study: Infection Rates Could Be Linked To Cancer

A new study reveals infections could have a connection around the development of differing cancer types. In fact, the research suggest that before some cancers develop, individuals experience increased rates of infectious illnesses like the pneumonia and flu.

Past studies have stated a link between inflammation, cancer, and immunity. Inflammation can encourage cancerous developments, which can compromise an individual’s immune system, thus enhancing inflammation.

Visiting researcher at Japan’s Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine and corresponding study author Dr. Shinako Inaida, revealed that cancer can grow within an inflamed environment created by infections, chronic or genetic conditions, and exposure to chemical carcinogens. He went on to add that a person’s immunity is considered a factor when it comes to cancer; however, added research is required to comprehend the relationship between infections, precancerous immunity, as well as cancer development.

To determine this, the researchers gathered information via a seven-year social health insurance system database from Japan. The team reviewed numbers from over 50,700 participants. All these individuals were over 30 years old, with no detected immunodeficiency.

The case group consisted of over 2,300 individuals who developed a type of cancer in the last year of research. The control group had close to 48,400 individuals with zero cancer diagnosis in the seven years of the study, in addition to the last year.

The team then reviewed the prevalence of gastroenteritis, influenza, pneumonia, and hepatitis infections when it came to the two groups.

The team discovered a clear connection around prevalence of the four infections, and later cancer development. The case group reviewed had a tremendously higher rate of infections versus the control group, in the six years prior to cancer diagnosis.

In fact, case group members had increased rates of infection in the year prior to getting a cancer diagnosis, versus the control group. In that year, the case group members had an 18 percent greater infection rate of the flu; just over 46 percent when it came to gastroenteritis; a little over 135 percent for pneumonia; and over 232 percent for hepatitis – when compared with the control group.

The study team noted that there was certainly a correlation between infections and differing cancer developments.

Some examples of this was that individuals who were given a male germ cell cancer diagnosis was likelier to have had the flu. Then there were people who had stomach cancers, who were likelier to have pneumonia.

With that said, Dr. Inaida noted that the team discovered infections that dealt with a specific organ did not link to an enhanced risk of cancer to that organ.

The team also pointed out that the research study did have its fair share of limitations. First off, the data didn’t provide the full picture when it came to medical conditions and genetics of those individuals participating; plus, information was limited around lifestyle choice and environmental exposures; all factors that affect both infections and cancer.

Still, a clear link between immunity, inflammation, infection, immunity, as well as cancer does offer future opportunities when it comes to research, and opens a door to enhanced methods around diagnosis.