According to the American Cancer Society, certain viruses, bacteria and parasites are now recognized as risk factors for cancer. While the percentage of cancers linked to infections is higher in developing countries than it is in first world countries such as the United States, between 15 and 20 percent of cancers across the globe can be connected to infections. Infections can increase a person’s risk of developing cancer in various ways. In some instances, a virus can insert its own genes into an otherwise healthy cell, causing the cell to grow out of control. In other cases, infections cause longterm inflammation in a particular area of the body, leading to changes in the affected cells and in immune cells that are nearby. Those changes can eventually lead to cancer. Certain infections can compromise the immune system to such a great extent that it is no longer capable of fully protecting the body from some cancers. While infections can increase a person’s risk for cancer, the ACS notes that many people who develop the types of infections that have been linked to cancer do not ultimately receive a cancer diagnosis. @metro

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