HHS Updates Carcinogen Report with Cancer-Causing Viruses, Substances

The five viruses have been associated with over 20 different types of cancers.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has added seven new substances to the 14th Report on Carcinogens now totaling 248 listings. 

The newly reviewed substances include five viruses, a chemical, and a metallic element:

— Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)
— Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1)
— Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
— Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV)
— Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV)
— Trichloroethylene (TCE)
— Cobalt and cobalt compounds that release cobalt ions in vivo

The five viruses have been associated with over 20 different types of cancers, including non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphomas, anogenital cancers, eye cancer, lung cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, some types of stomach cancer, and others. 

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TCE, an industrial solvent, is mainly used to make hydrofluorocarbon chemicals. Many studies have demonstrated a causal association between TCE and a higher risk for kidney cancer. People can be exposed to TCE through air, water, and soil at sites where it is produced or used. 

The cobalt listing encompasses different types of cobalt compounds that release ions into the body; it does not include vitamin B12. Cobalt is used to make metal alloys and other metal compounds (eg, military and industrial equipment, rechargeable batteries). The greatest exposure happens in the workplace and from failed surgical implants. 

The Report serves to identify various environmental factors, chemicals, infectious agents (eg, viruses), physical agents (eg, x-rays, UV radiation), mixtures of chemicals, and exposure scenarios that are either known to be a human carcinogen or reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen. 

For more information visit NIH.gov.