One in six cancer cases worldwide are caused by infections, many of which are preventable or treatable, according to a study published in the journal The Lancet Oncology.

A total of 2 million new cancer cases in 2008 were linked to infections, the study said. Of those, only 7.4% were reported in more developed countries, and 22.9% in less developed countries.

The research blames many of these cancer cases on Human papillomavirus, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and the stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori.

There were big differences in the study between types of cancers that infected women and men.  About half of infection-linked cancers seen in women were blamed on cervix uteri cancers.  Among men in the study, more than 80% of cancers tied to infection were liver and gastric cancer.

But the total number of infection-related cancer cases was similar in men and women, a pattern that was consistent across age groups, except among people younger than 40. Women under 40 had more infection-linked cancers than men, mostly because of cervical cancer, the study said.

In terms of deaths, the study authors estimated that 1.5 million of the 7.5 million cancer deaths that occurred worldwide in 2008 - or about one in five - were related to infectious diseases.

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