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'One in Six'

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In a new review article published in Lancet Oncology, researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France write that one in six cancers globally are caused by some kind of infection, reports BBC News' Michelle Roberts. The researchers looked at the rates of 27 different cancers in 184 countries, and found that about 2 million cancers a year are caused by one of four viruses or bacteria — human papillomavirus, Helicobacter pylori , and hepatitis B and C viruses — Roberts says. These infections can cause cancer of the cervix, gut, or liver. The researchers say existing public health approaches to preventing infection could have a substantial impact on lowering the rates of these kinds of cancer, if they are broadly implemented. "Vaccines are available to protect against human papillomavirus — which is linked to cancer of the cervix — and hepatitis B virus — an established cause of liver cancer," Roberts says. "And experts know that stomach cancer can be avoided by clearing the bacterial infection H. pylori from the gut using a course of antibiotics."

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