Getting frequent infections can precede cancer diagnosis

Dr. Gabe Mirkin

People who develop frequent infections are at increased risk for developing cancer later on. Japanese researchers checked 2,354 patients suffering from malignant cancers and found that compared to those who did not develop cancer, cancer sufferers were at significantly increased risk for suffering infections such as influenza, pneumonia, hepatitis, or gastroenteritis in the six years before they were diagnosed with cancer (Cancer Immunology Research, April 17, 2020).
• Men who developed testicular cancers were twice as likely to have had influenza
• Patients with stomach cancer were more than three times more likely to have had pneumonia
• Patients with liver infections were 20 times more likely to develop blood, bone, and bone marrow
cancers, and 11 times more likely to develop liver, breast, and genitourinary cancers.
Furthermore, each year before the cancer diagnosis, infection rates kept increasing. Six years before they were diagnosed with cancer, they had a 16 percent increased risk of infection and one year before diagnosis, they had a 55 percent greater risk. The most common cancers prevalent in the study group were digestive and gastrointestinal, head and neck, and stomach cancers.

Why Would Frequent Infections Precede Cancers?
Cancer is the result of a defect in your immune system. Every human makes millions of cancer cells every day, but your own immune system attacks and kills them because they have different surface proteins than your normal cells. Your immune system is supposed to protect you from invading germs, so your immune cells and cytokine proteins kill invading germs by recognizing that germs have different surface proteins than your own human cells. Cancer develops when your immune system loses its ability to tell the difference between your normal cells and cancer cells. Before a cancer can get large enough to harm you, your immune system has already lost some of its ability to tell the difference between invading germs and your own cells, so you are likely to be at increased risk for infections also.

How Infections Can Cause Cancer
Every cell in your body lives for a certain number of days and then dies. For example, the cells lining your lips live 24 to 48 hours and die, skin cells live 28 days and then die, and red blood cells live around 120 days and then die. This programmed cell death is called apoptosis and is directed by your DNA. Cancer means that a certain type of cell, such as breast cells, tries to live forever. Breast cancer will not kill you as long as the cancer remains in your breast. However, if the breast cancer multiplies so extensively that it spreads to your brain, it can kill you by destroying your brain. If it spreads to your liver, it can kill you by destroying your liver.

Chronic infections can damage your DNA that programs cell death. When that happens, that type of cell tries to live forever and can invade and destroy other types of cells to kill you. We know that certain infections and certain chemicals can cause cancers by damaging DNA so that those cells try to live forever and become a cancer. Examples include:
• Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and cervical, rectal and oral cancers
• Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and nose and mouth cancers
• Hepatitis B and C viruses and liver cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
• HIV and Kaposi sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and cervical cancer
• Human Herpes Virus 8 (HHV8) and Kaposi sarcoma
• Human T-cell leukemia viruses
• Helicobacter pylori, stomach cancer and MALT lymphoma
• HHV-6 and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
• Whipple’s disease-associated bacillus and small intestinal lymphomas
• Fusobacterium and Borrelia vincentii with tropical phagedenic ulcer or squamous cell skin cancer
More than 15 percent of all malignancies worldwide are associated with known viral infections.

My Recommendations
• If you have chronic symptoms of a possible infection, check with your doctor to search for a cause. For example, if you have belching, burping or burning in your stomach, your doctor can check you for helicobacter with a simple breath test. If it is positive, you can probably be cured with a short course of antibiotics, which will prevent a cancer that could develop several years later. If you have a chronic vaginal irritation, chronic urinary symptoms, chronic mouth or throat irritation, or other chronic symptoms anywhere in your body, get them checked.
• Be sure that your doctors are aware if you have been getting frequent infections anywhere in your body, such as influenza, pneumonia, hepatitis, gastroenteritis and so forth. Frequent infections of any kind may be a sign that your immune system is not functioning properly.

Dr. Gabe Mirkin is a Villager. Learn more at www.drmirkin.com

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