The human papillomavirus ( HPV ) triples the risk of people developing yet another cancer, oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma ( OSCC ), according to research led by University of New South Wales ( UNSW ) researchers.
In addition to causing cervical, anal and genital cancer, HPV has more recently been found to cause some head and neck cancer.
Oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma is the most common of two types of oesophageal cancer. While it is rare in Australia, it is the sixth highest cause of cancer-related deaths world-wide. It is particularly prevalent in China, South Africa and Iran among men in their mid-70s to 80s. It is unknown why the prevalence is so high in those countries, but it is thought to be linked to dietary, lifestyle and environmental factors.
HPV virus is another factor which we can add to a long list of causes of OSCC; smoking and alcohol are the main causes, as well as the consumption of extremely hot liquids, lots of red meat and possibly environmental toxins in the diet.
The findings were published in Plos One.
Given that the most common two cervical cancer-causing HPVs are now preventable by early vaccination, this may be significant in countries where OSCC is frequently found.
In China, it is one of the leading causes of cancer death, so Chinese health authorities could consider this in any deliberations they are having about potential benefits of HPV vaccination in their population.
Currently, HPV vaccination is used most commonly in young people in developed countries to prevent cervical cancer. ( Xagena )
Source: University of New South Wales , 2013