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Keywords:

  • human cancer;
  • infection;
  • virus;
  • bacteria;
  • helminths;
  • parasite;
  • inflammation;
  • proliferation;
  • apoptosis;
  • metabolism

Abstract

The burden of human infectious diseases remains a public health problem worldwide. At least 2 billion people are affected by viral infections, and a similar number by bacteria or helminths. The long-term effects of these maladies have raised particular concern since some infectious agents have been associated with chronic human diseases, especially cancer. It is estimated that 13–20% of the world cancer cases are associated with some virus, bacteria, or helminth, e.g., human papillomavirus, Helicobacter pylori, and Schistosoma haematobium that cause cervical, stomach, and urinary bladder cancer, respectively. Certain associations between infection and malignancy are strong and irrefutable; others are still speculative. This article reviews the infectious agents that have been associated with cancer and current knowledge about the mechanisms underlying these associations. Environ. Mol. Mutagen., 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.