November 29, 2011
People with HIV have a higher risk of developing certain cancers than do uninfected individuals -- and the weaker their immune system, the more vulnerable they are to cancer, a large study of Kaiser Permanente members shows.
Researchers have long known HIV is associated with increased cancer risk, particularly virus-caused cancers such as Kaposi's sarcoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. HIV attacks the immune system, making patients more vulnerable to other viruses and, in turn, cancer. But just how much of an increased risk has not been well understood, and scientists have struggled to separate the risk of cancer from the behaviors that can increase cancer risk and tend to be associated with HIV, including smoking, drinking, and having unprotected sex.
Study lead author Dr. Michael Silverberg, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, compared cancer rates among 20,000 HIV-positive Kaiser members in California and 215,000 uninfected members. Higher rates of Kaposi's sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma, melanoma, and anal and liver cancer were found among HIV-positive members. The HIV patients had 200 times the risk for Kaposi's sarcoma, a 40 percent higher risk for liver cancer, and a 55-fold increase for anal cancer. Neither drinking nor smoking appeared to be a factor in any of those cancers other than liver. For reasons not yet understood, the risk of developing prostate cancer was slightly reduced with HIV infection.
San Francisco Chronicle
11.23.2011; Erin Allday
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