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HPV infection linked to increased risk of skin cancer

By Ian Quinn

HPV infection heightens the risk of skin cancer and the risk is worsened if people are taking immunosuppression drugs, according to a new study published on BMJ.com today.

Researchers found that people with several types of HPVs were more than one and a half times as likely to develop some skin cancers as people without.

Led by Professor Margaret Karagas of the Dartmouth Medical School in the USA, they studied 2,366 people living in New Hampshire, made up of 663 people with squamous cell carcinoma, 898 people with basal cell carcinoma and 805 healthy controls.

Results showed that people with squamous cell carcinoma, but not basal cell carcinoma, were far more likely to have each of the beta HPV types compared to people in the control group. The likelihood of having squamous cell carcinoma increased as people were found to have more of the HPV types.

The researchers also found that people who were long term users of immunosuppressant drugs had more than a three-fold risk of squamous cell carcinoma in relation to HPV, but with limited statistical precision.

‘Given the widespread and growing occurrence of these malignancies, our results raise the possibility of reducing the health and economic burden of these cancers through prevention or treatment of human papillomavirus infection,' concluded the authors.

Results showed that people with squamous cell carcinoma were far more likely to have each of the beta HPV types Results showed that people with squamous cell carcinoma were far more likely to have each of the beta HPV types

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