October 12, 2009
Cancer used to be thought one of those diseases that you couldn’t get from anyone else. If you got it, it was the fault of your genes. But as time has gone on, it has become obvious that lifestyle is at least as big a factor, and that alongside drinking, smoking and eating too much, which can all be implicated, the viruses that we pass from one to another can raise our risk.
Transmission of cancer from mother to child is incredibly rare and has now been shown to have genetic triggers. The baby’s immune system should have blocked the cancer, but it did not recognise the enemy. As far as we know, there was nothing in the mother’s lifestyle that made cancer more likely.
But usually cancer is a combination of genetic propensity and environmental circumstances. Risk factors for many cancers include obesity. Cervical cancer is caused by a virus – the human papillomavirus (HPV), for which we now have a vaccine. HPV is sexually transmitted. But most women come into contact with it at some point in their lives and most women clear it from their bodies without knowing it. Only in a very small proportion of cases does it cause cancer.
Comment from Leslie
Viruses and cancer…interesting concept – actually a study came out of the UK years ago about breast cancer also caused by a virus. If HPV can cause cervical cancer then a virus causing breast cancer is also plausible. Another reason to keep your immune systems healthy – and eat your broccoli.