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Why do we think chronic inflammation can cause cancer? I know the pathway is not fully understood, but what makes scientists believe that inflammation causes cancer?

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There are good epidemiological data for this.

Links between cancer and inflammation were first made in the nineteenth century, on the basis of observations that tumours often arose at sites of chronic inflammation and that inflammatory cells were present in biopsied samples from tumours.

There are many triggers of chronic inflammation that increase the risk of developing cancer. Such triggers include microbial infections (for example, infection with Helicobacter pylori is associated with gastric cancer and gastric mucosal lymphoma), autoimmune diseases (for example, inflammatory bowel disease is associated with colon cancer) and inflammatory conditions of unknown origin (for example, prostatitis is associated with prostate cancer). Accordingly, treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents decreases the incidence of, and the mortality that results from, several tumour types.

Cited from Mantovani, Alberto, et al. "Cancer-related inflammation." Nature 454.7203 (2008): 436-444. http://www.sld.cu/sitios/reumatologia/temas.php?idv=21500

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