October 2, 2008
Hepatitis B Exposure May Increase Risk for Pancreatic Cancer: Study
Hepatitis B exposure may increase risk for pancreatic cancer: study
WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- In a first-of-its-kind finding, researchers at University of Texas have discovered that exposure to the hepatitis B virus (HBV) may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
The study, published in the Oct. 1 edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, also suggests that patients with this lethal form of cancer treated with chemotherapy may face danger of reactivation of their HBV.
Pancreatic cancer is diagnosed in 37,000 people in the United States each year, and more than 34,000 people die of the disease annually, according to the American Cancer Society. It is often diagnosed in the late stages and is especially perplexing because few risk factors are known.
"If this study is validated, it will give us more information about the risk factors of pancreatic cancer and possibly even help prevent it in some cases," said lead author Manal Hassan.
HBV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are major global health problems. In U.S. 1.25 million people have chronic HBV, while 3.2 million have chronic HCV. These systemic viruses can harm the body in a variety of ways, including traveling through the bloodstream and damaging tissues throughout the body.
Previous research has shown HBV and HCV are major causes of liver cancer. Little is known about their roles in other cancers. However, the proximity of the liver to the pancreas and the fact the pancreas and liver share common blood vessels and ducts make the pancreas a potential target for hepatitis viruses.
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