- New research links infection with cancer
Study raises hopes antibiotics may be an alternative to chemo, radiation
The Associated Press Updated: 12:41 a.m. AKT Oct 31, 2005 PARIS - New research
suggests that infection with bacteria from the Chlamydia family may play
a role in the development of a type of lymphoma that affects the tissue
around the eye, raising hopes that antibiotics may one day prove to be
an alternative to chemotherapy or radiation.
- The study, presented Monday at the European
Cancer Conference, is the latest to link infection with cancer, following
the establishment of the human papilloma virus as the major cause of cervical
cancer and the bacteria Helicobacter pylori as a cause of stomach cancer.
- "This is sensational," said
Dr. Dieter Hossfeld, a professor of oncology at the University of Hamburg,
Germany, who was not involved with the research. "It was first noted
in Italy and now it's been confirmed on the other side of the world in
Korea, and we've heard that there are similar findings in the United States,
so it's not a regional disease and is obviously a valid thing," Hossfeld
- The bacteria in question, Chlamydia psittaci,
can be contracted from infected birds such as parrots. Scientists also
suspect it can come from household cats because they also carry it. Chlamydia
psittaci is known to cause a lung infection called psittacosis. In the
study, Dr. Changhoon You from the Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea,
compared chlamydia infection in 33 people with ocular adnexal lymphoma,
or OAL, and 21 people with a comparable but non-cancerous condition called
non-neoplastic ocular adnexal disease. He found the Chlamydia psittaci
strain was present in 78 percent of the cancer patients, but only in 23
percent of those in the comparison group.
- In a previous study conducted in Italy,
the bacteria were found in 80 percent of people with the lymphoma and in
none of those in a comparison group of healthy people. "In the future,
eradication of the (germ) could be a common treatment method for low-grade
lymphoma, replacing current cytotoxic chemotherapy or radiation,"
You said. The Chlamydia family of bacteria has been linked to cancer before.
- Scientists already have shown that another
strain, Chlamydia trachomatis, is linked to the development of cervical
cancer. Another, Chlamydia pneumoniae, has been linked to lung cancer.
Ocular adnexal lymphoma belongs to a group of lymphomas where cellular
changes result from immune system responses gone awry.
- Scientists say it makes sense that infections
such as chlamydia could contribute to the development of the disease. "It
makes biological sense, but whether it will translate into anything practical,
and for how many patients, this is the question," said Dr. Joachim
Yahalom, a lymphoma specialist at Memorial SloanKettering Cancer Center
in New York who was not connected with the research. In many of these types
of lymphoma, an infection can start the process, but at some point the
cancer becomes independent of the infection. So unless the infection is
treated early, antibiotics may not be enough, Yahalom said.
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