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Oral Oncol. 2006 Mar;42(3):288-96.

Head and neck cancer associated with herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 and other risk factors.

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Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


We investigated whether herpes simplex viruses, HSV-1 and HSV-2, are cofactors of head and neck cancer (HNC) in association with tobacco, alcohol, or HPV-16 infection. The study included 164 HNC cases and 295 controls. Serologic tests were used to distinguish HSV-1 and HSV-2. Antibodies to anti-VLP HPV-16 and HPV-16 E6 and E7 were evaluated by ELISA. After adjusting for age, tobacco, alcohol use, and number of sexual partners, risk of cancer was not significantly increased in those with HSV-1 [adjusted odds ratio (OR)=0.7] or HSV-2 (OR=0.8) compared to HSV-negative patients. Although heavy use of tobacco, alcohol and HPV-16 infection was associated with an increased risk of HNC, the adjusted risk among those infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2 lowered the odds compared to those who were not infected. Heavy smokers (OR=1.7) and heavy drinkers infected with HSV-1 (OR=4.2) or HSV-2 (smokers: OR=1.6; drinkers: OR=3.2) had lower odds compared to seronegative HSV-1 heavy users (smokers: OR=2.5; drinkers: OR=5.5) or HSV-2 (smokers: OR=1.9; drinkers: OR=6.2). Those seropositive to HPV-16 E6 and/or E7 but not HSV-1 (OR=27.4) or HSV-2 (OR=18.0) had higher risk of HNC compared to those infected with HSV-1 (OR=16.7) or HSV-2 (not estimable). These findings suggest that seropositivity to HSV-1 and HSV-2, although not independent risk factors for HNC, may modify the risk of HNC associated with exposure to tobacco, alcohol, or HPV-HR.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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