HPV infection tied to higher risk for lung cancer

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A new meta-analysis published in the journal Oncotarget suggests that HPV infection, particularly with HPV 16 and HPV 18 genotypes, may be linked to a substantially higher risk for lung cancer.

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 37 studies (36 case-control; 1 population-based cohort) identified through a literature search on the PubMed, Ovid and Web of Science databases.

The pooled analysis using a random effects model showed a significant association between HPV infection and the risk for lung cancer (pooled OR, 3.64; P<.001). With respect to specific genotypes, the risk for lung cancer was significant with HPV 16 (OR, 3.14; P<.001) and HPV 18 (OR, 2.25; P<.001), and to a lower extent with HPV 11 (OR, 1.30; P=.001), but not with HPV 6 and HPV 31 (P>.05). With respect to histological type, HPV infection had a significant association with adenocarcinoma (OR, 5.39; P<.001), squamous cell carcinoma (OR, 5.66; P<.001) and small cell carcinoma (OR, 6.74; P<.001).

According to the authors, HPV E6 and E7 oncogene proteins may target multiple genes and proteins that regulate cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and cell immortalisation through different signalling pathways.

The authors call for further research using well-designed cohort studies or randomised controlled trials to firmly establish the association between HPV and lung cancer. "Future research needs to focus attention toward whether an HPV vaccine can effectively reduce the incidence of lung cancer," they added.