Increase in Cancers Linked to HPV and Obesity

Death rates continue to decline for most cancers in the United States, but for certain cancers associated with obesity and tied to human papilloma virus (HPV), rates have risen.

The CDC, National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, and North American Association of Central Cancer Registries published a report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute which provided the latest status on cancer rates in the U.S. This annual report provided the good news that death rates continued to decline for all cancers combined for men and women of all major racial and ethnic groups and for most major sites in the body. The researchers said these declines in cancer death rates may be because of reductions in risk factors like smoking along with improvements in early detection and treatments.

Death rates for men from cancer decreased for 10 of the 17 most common cancers: lung, prostate, colon and rectum, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, kidney, melanoma, oral cavity and pharynx, stomach, and larynx. Incidence rates increased for six others: kidney, pancreas, liver, thyroid, melanoma of the skin, and myeloma. For women, incidence rates decreased for seven common cancers: lung, colon and rectum, bladder, cervix, oral cavity and pharynx, ovary, and stomach. They increased though for seven others: thyroid, melanoma of the skin, kidney, pancreas, leukemia, liver, and uterus.

A special section in the report highlights the increasing incidence rates for oropharyngeal and anal cancers associated with HPV and also notes that the HPV vaccination rates remain low. The report recommended that adolescents receive the HPV vaccine to prevent many diseases. Among both men and women, increases were reported for cancers tied to obesity, such as those of the kidney, pancreas, and uterus. This finding points to the importance of efforts to promote healthy weight and sufficient physical activity to reduce the cancer burden in the United States.

This news is frustrating. We assume should be able to prevent obesity, but it’s an elusive goal. We have an HPV vaccine, but we don’t put it to full use.

Click here to read more and view a report from CBS News, and click here to read the study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Low-grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion with HPV Effect, image © Ed Uthman / Wikimedia