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Infections tied to head and neck cancers

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections multiply the risk of certain head and neck cancers, particularly those of the tonsils, researchers report.

There are dozens of HPV variants, many of which are harmless, says study leader Jon Mork of the National Hospital in Oslo. Some HPV is sexually transmitted and is commonly blamed for genital warts.

But the scientific case for HPV infections as the cause of some cancers has been mounting. The strongest evidence so far comes from studies that link several specific virus types, including HPV-16 and HPV-18, to cervical cancer (SN: 6/13/98, p. 382). Other studies have also found HPV-16 particles in prostate tumors (SN: 2/27/99, p. 135).

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