Infections could contribute to adult brain tumours

In collaboration with the Press Association

Statistical analysis carried out by scientists in the UK and Holland has revealed infections could act as a trigger for certain brain tumours.

An investigation of adult brain tumours from the North Brabant province of the Netherlands, between 1983 and 2001, found glioma tumours were clustered at different time intervals in different geographical locations.

As the 'space-time clustering' effect is a common feature of diseases caused by infections, the research group believe "infections could play a key role in triggering certain types of adult brain cancer".

The researchers maintained, however, that infections would contribute to cancer in only a small number of cases where the individual was genetically susceptible to the disease.

Dr Richard McNally, from the University of Newcastle which led the study, said: "Very little is known about the cause of brain tumours and we think our research brings us closer to understanding more about this disease.

"Future research should try to identify specific infections which could potentially be a trigger. If these are found, it could lead to future preventative measures."

The study was funded by Cancer Research UK, the Dutch Cancer Society and the Christie Hospital Research Endowment Fund.

Professor John Toy, Cancer Research UK's medical director, added: "Brain cancer is rare, accounting for less than two per cent of all new adult cancers diagnosed in the UK each year.

"These findings suggest a possible link between infection and this type of the disease but by no means provide proof."