There is a vaccine to prevent HPV, but whether the same vaccine would have any effect on lung cancer is not clear, Anantharaman said.
"This study aims to report observed associations. Whether these indicate a causal relationship remains to be established," he said. "I understand the interest in relation to HPV vaccination. However, any interpretation in that light seems farfetched at the moment."
The study was funded by IARC.
Dr. Luis E. Raez, co-leader of the Thoracic Oncology Group at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that "this association is not enough to establish causality."
However, this initial finding is interesting enough to be the basis for more studies designed to confirm this link, he said. "Maybe this virus is related to lung cancer," Raez said.
"If this virus is really related to lung cancer, maybe you could vaccinate smokers with HPV vaccine and you can prevent lung cancer," he said.
Experts note that research presented at meetings has not been subjected to the rigorous review that precedes publication in a medical journal.
For more on HPV, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Devasena Anantharaman, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, Genetic Epidemiology Group, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France; Luis E. Raez, M.D., associate professor, medicine, co-leader, Thoracic Oncology Group Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; April 4, 2011, presentation, American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting, Orlando, Fla.
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