The uncontrolled growth of cells in any part of the body is cancer. It is a group of disease. Cancer kills millions of people every year in our world. Few can be curable if diagnosed in the early stages. We can do a lot to minimize the risk of cancer. The hereditary risk factor is only about 5% to 10%. The rest comes from our lifestyle, diet and environment. We see here the many ways to reduce the cancer risks.

It is believed that viruses cause about 10 to 15% of cancers in our world. Cancers can’t be caught like an infection and viruses can only help to cause some cancers. Virus can cause genetic changes in cells which can lead to cancer. The risk is very low to get the cancer from the virus, but there are other factors which can play a vital role and they include:

• The strain of the virus
• The genes of the host
• Host’s lifestyle factors including smoking, alcohol and food
• Immunosuppression caused by malnutrition or HIV infection or AIDS

The viruses are linked to the following cancers and they include:

• Human Papilloma virus (HPV) – cervical cancer and other cancers of the genital and anal area. May lead to oropharyngeal cancer and non melanoma skin cancers in some persons.
• Hepatitis B and C viruses – primary liver cancer
• Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) – lymphomas
• T cell leukaemia virus – T cell leukaemia

There are many cases where the viral infection doesn’t lead to cancer. There is primary liver cancer or T cell leukaemia in people without corresponding viral infection.

Bacterial infections haven’t been thought of as cancer producing agents for a long time. Now we know well that helicobacter pylori can cause stomach cancer. Without knowing their exact role, few of the bacteria are associated with different cancers and they include:

• Salmonella typhi – gallbladder cancer
• Streptococcus bovis – colorectal cancer
• Chlamydia pneumonia – lung cancer
• Mycoplasma – different cancers

Research is going on to know more about the role of viruses and bacteria in cancer. It is in our hands to minimize the risks. A healthy lifestyle is always important. Safe-sex is also important to prevent infections. It is important to go to your doctor if you have any symptoms of viral or bacterial infection.