Most of us only know about what increases our risk of developing cancer, such as smoking and environmental toxins. However, few of us know about the real, true causes of life’s most frightening illness. Now, thanks to a study out of the U.K., which was published recently in the International Journal of Cancer, you’ll know what the world’s biggest cause of cancer is.
They are the same culprits that cause infection in your body: viruses, parasites, and bacteria. These are responsible for nearly one-fifth of all cancers across the globe. Looking at data from 2002, about 18% of cancers were caused by viruses that trigger HIV, hepatitis, and stomach ulcers. Scientists believe that if we could prevent these infections, then a large chunk of worldwide cancers could be lopped off.
Two million cases of cancer every year are attributable to infections. The worst offender? That’d be the H. pylori bacteria, which causes ulcers in your abdomen and contributes to stomach cancer. Back in 2002, it’s estimated that H. pylori was responsible for six percent of all cancer cases. Others include:
— HPV: The “human papillomavirus” afflicts 20 million people and causes genital warts. Several strains of this infection can cause cervical cancer.
— Hepatitis: Both the B and C viruses cause an astronomical 85% of all liver cancers. It’s worst in developing nations. In the U.S., it causes around 42% of all liver cancer cases.
— EBV: The “Epstein-Barr” virus is very common; it’s a herpes-like infection that stays dormant in your immune system after you have contracted it. It is also linked to Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as nasopharyngeal cancer.
— HIV: The infamous virus that can cause AIDS can also trigger many cancers by damaging your immune system. They include cervical cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and lymphoma.
There are many others and together if we could prevent them more effectively, we could lower the overall cancer rate by up to 26%. Perhaps the best preventive path to take involves vaccines, which are available for HPV and hepatitis B. While more research is needed, this illustrates the importance of keeping your immune system strong by eating healthy, drinking enough water daily, and exercising regularly.