Drug cocktails taken to control the AIDS virus may not only keep patients healthy but may protect them against some cancers caused by the infection, international researchers said on Tuesday.
The drug mixtures, called highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART, suppress the deadly and incurable virus and help prevent pneumonia and other infections caused when HIV is left free to destroy the immune system.
HAART also prevents some cancers, according to Gary Clifford of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and colleagues. The IARC is associated with the World Health Organization.
They analyzed the records of more than 7,300 Swiss HIV patients and found those on HAART had lower risks of Kaposi's sarcoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma compared with those who did not use HAART.
Nonetheless, Kaposi's sarcoma -- a cancer marked by red skin lesions and one of the hallmarks of full-blown AIDS -- was 20 times more common in HIV patients than in the general population. So was non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.
And the HIV patients still had a higher than usual risk of anal cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, cervical cancer, liver cancer, cancer of the lip, mouth, and pharynx, and non-melanoma skin cancer, the researchers reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
(Agencies via China Daily March 16, 2005)