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Anti-HIV drugs may prevent some cancers

Anti-HIV drugs may prevent some cancers

Highly active antiretroviral therapy may not only suppress HIV and help prevent opportunistic infections such as pneumonia, the drugs may also protect patients from some infection-related cancers, say researchers. Gary Clifford, of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and colleagues reviewed the records of more than 7,300 Swiss HIV-positive patients and found that those taking anti-HIV drugs had a lower risk of Kaposi's sarcoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma than patients not taking HAART. However, compared with the general population, HIV-infected patients had a 20-fold risk of having KS and had a higher risk of anal cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, cervical cancer, liver cancer, cancer of the lip, mouth, and pharynx, and non-melanoma skin cancer, researchers reported. "In persons infected with HIV, HAART use may prevent most excess risk of KS and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma but not that of Hodgkin's lymphoma and other non-acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-defining cancers. No cancers of the lip, mouth, pharynx, or lung were observed in nonsmokers." The full study, titled "Cancer Risk in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study: Associations With Immunodeficiency, Smoking, and Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy," appears in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. (Reuters)

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