Back to News

HPV infection, associated with a double risk of thyroid cancer

A study conducted in Taiwan has shown that individuals with a history of HPV infections are over twice as likely to develop thyroid cancer. This represents the first significant evidence of the role of a carcinogenic agent in cases of thyroid neoplasm, which is the most common endocrine cancer, with rapidly increasing cases worldwide. The results are published in Scientific Reports.

Thyroid cancer originates in the thyroid gland, and its causes are not well understood, usually being attributed to a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Known risk factors for the development of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) include exposure to ionizing radiation, high iodine intake, autoimmune thyroid diseases, and genetic predisposition. Furthermore, previous research has reported associations with infectious agents such as parvovirus B19, herpesvirus, and polyomavirus in the pathogenesis of papillary thyroid carcinoma, though a clear causal relationship has not been demonstrated.

Previous studies report HPV particles identified in thyroid nodules, suggesting a potential link to cancer development in this region as well. HPV was more significantly present in PTC tissues than in benign thyroid nodules and normal thyroid tissues.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus, associated with several types of cancer, and high-risk HPV types have been linked to about 3% of cancers in women and 2% in men, including cancers of the cervix, anus, genital organs, head, and neck. The new study included over 3000 thyroid cancer patients, aged over 20, from Taiwan's Longitudinal Health Insurance Database, and a healthy control group in a 1:3 ratio. Patients infected with HPV were 2.199 times more likely to subsequently develop thyroid cancer compared to those without a history of the virus. This suggests a strong association between the two diseases and presents the first evidence of HPV as a carcinogen that may induce thyroid neoplasm.

Dr. Bianca Cucoș, specialist in medical genetics, expert in the ReThinkHPVaccination project and Editor-in-Chief at Raportuldegardă.ro, commented on the importance of the results:

"It looks like HPV vaccines could play an important role in preventing thyroid cancer, but we still need studies to clearly confirm this link and help us better understand how it all works. It is interesting to note that HPV affects men and women equally, but when it comes to thyroid cancer, it seems to be more prevalent among women. That makes us wonder how HPV affects men and women differently. Understanding the gender-specific biological, genetic, and lifestyle factors that may influence the progression from HPV infection to the development of thyroid cancer is essential.

Plus, the idea that the risk of developing this type of cancer is higher regardless of gender for those infected with HPV, to which we add recent information that 1 in 3 boys are HPV carriers, should make us understand that there is no no doubt about how important vaccination is regardless of sex and gender."

Dr. Bianca Cucoș for Raportuldegardă.ro.
Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram