12 ways to reduce your cancer risk

Vaccination and infections

icon-vaccinationEnsure your children take part in vaccination programmes for:

  • Hepatitis B (for newborns)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) (for girls).

Few people associate infection with cancer, but nearly one-fifth of all cancers in the world are caused by infectious agents, including viruses and bacteria. Among the most important infections associated with cancers are human papillomaviruses (HPVs) which can cause most cervical and anal cancers as well as a fraction of oral cancers; hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV), which can cause liver cancer; and Helicobacter pylori, which is a bacterium that can cause cancer of the stomach. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection does not cause cancers directly but people with HIV have a greater risk of developing certain cancers because their immune systems are weakened. Vaccines are the most effective way of preventing some of these infections. Highly effective vaccines against HBV have been available for several decades and most countries include HBV vaccination in their childhood immunization programmes; vaccination is also highly effective in preventing infection with the HPV types that cause the majority of cervical cancers.