Infections caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites are the cause of the appearance of one in six tumors cancerous, according to the findings of an international investigation conducted in 184 countries, which has evaluated the incidence of 27 different types of cancer.

According to the study, which has been published in 'The Lancet Oncology', each year one and a half million people die in the world - two thirds in the poorest countries of the planet - as a result of tumors whose origin is attributed to some type of infection.

Every year a million and a half people die in the world as a result of cancerous tumors whose origin is attributed to some type of infection

The bacterium 'Helicobacter pylori' - which has already infected half the world's population - and viruses such as hepatitis B and C and the human papilloma virus are associated with the development of cancer of the stomach, liver and cervix, respectively. Another example is the infection caused by parasites of the genus Squistosoma, schistosomiasis, which can trigger bladder cancer.

The objective of the research was to determine the percentage of new cancers that could be attributed to previous infections and that, had the infection been prevented or treated correctly, they would have been avoided. The researchers estimated that 16.1% of the 12.7 million new cases of cancer detected worldwide occurred as a result of an infection, and that only in the year 2008 the death of 1.5 could have been prevented. millions of people if the infection that caused the cancer that finally killed them had been prevented or treated early.

The authors of the study observed large differences between different geographical areas, and while in economically developed countries such as New Zealand and Australia tumors originating from an infectious pathology accounted for 3.3% of cases, this percentage amounted to 32.7% in the Sub-Saharan Africa.

Researchers have highlighted the importance of establishing preventive programs and prophylactic measures in these developing areas, such as vaccines, to prevent the proliferation and transmission of pathologies caused by certain viruses, bacteria and parasites, and thereby reduce the incidence and mortality of cancer worldwide.

Thinking about cancer as an infectious disease (November 2019).