HPV could cause prostate cancer: for the first time, scientists find a fixed link between the disease and the sexually transmitted virus
Prostate cancer has been convincingly linked to the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) for the first time.
Experts have found evidence that a significant number of prostate cancer cases are "most likely" caused by the same virus that causes cervical cancer in women.
The researchers say their results suggest that the HPV vaccine could help lower the risk of prostate cancer.
Research has found evidence to suggest that the HPV vaccine can lower the risk of prostate cancer
The vaccine, which has been administered to teenage girls since 2008, was first made available to students aged 12 and 13 last year.
HPV has previously been known to cause certain rare cancers in men, including mouth, throat, and genital tumors, which make up approximately 2,500 cases per year.
However, the impact on prostate cancer, which affects over 57,000 men in the UK each year, significantly increases the consequences of contracting the virus.
It also underlines the importance of the vaccination program.
The research team from the University of New South Wales in Australia has compiled the results of 26 previous studies to provide the largest evidence base to date for linking HPV to prostate cancer.
They wrote in the Infectious Agents and Cancer Journal: "A causal role for HPVs in prostate cancer is very likely."
Prostate cancer, which kills 12,000 men each year in the UK, has previously been linked to genetics, environmental pollutants, and lifestyle factors.
However, the researchers said: "Although HPVs are only one of many pathogens identified in prostate cancer, they are the only infectious pathogen that can be prevented by vaccination."
The team found that 22 percent of prostate cancer tissue contained traces of HPV compared to only 7 percent of benign prostate.
The vaccine, which has been administered to teenage girls since 2008, was first made available to students aged 12 and 13 last year
They also found that countries with high cervical cancer mortality rates also had high prostate cancer mortality. The opposite was true in countries with low cervical cancer mortality rates.
This suggests that HPV is a common factor, they said.
HPV is a common infection that spreads through skin contact, usually during sex. About eight in ten people will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives, and there are hundreds of different types of the virus.
Around 13 HPV types are known to cause cancer, including cervical cancer, penile cancer, and some types of mouth and throat cancer.
However, the researchers found that HPV types 16 and 18, which cause most cases of cervical cancer, have also been linked to prostate cases.
Professor James Lawson, one of the researchers, said: “Many people believe that HPV infections mainly lead to cancer in women. That's not the case.
"The data may indicate that HPV infection can be transmitted during sexual activity and that it has a causal role in prostate cancer and cervical cancer."
The scientists said that further studies are needed to investigate how HPV infection can lead to prostate cancer.
WHAT IS HPV? The infection was associated with 99% of cervical cancer cases
Up to eight out of ten people will be infected with HPV in their lifetime
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name for a group of viruses that affect your skin and the moist membranes of your body.
It spreads through vaginal, anal and oral sex and skin-to-skin contact between the genitals and is extremely common.
Up to eight out of ten people will be infected with the virus at some point in their lives.
There are more than 100 types of HPV. About 30 of these can affect the genital area. Genital HPV infections are common and highly contagious.
Many people never show symptoms because they can occur years after infection and most cases go away without treatment.
It can lead to genital warts and is also known to cause cervical cancer by producing abnormal tissue growth.
Annually, an average of 38,000 cases of HPV-related cancer are diagnosed in the United States, 3,100 cases of cervical cancer in the United Kingdom, and around 2,000 other cancers in the United Kingdom.
HPV can also cause cancer of the throat, throat, tongue, tonsils, vulva, vagina, penis or anus. It can take years for cancer to develop.
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