Chronic infections and inflammatory processes as cancer risk factors: possible role of nitric oxide in carcinogenesis

Mutat Res. 1994 Mar 1;305(2):253-64. doi: 10.1016/0027-5107(94)90245-3.


Infection by bacteria, parasites or viruses and tissue inflammation such as gastritis, hepatitis and colitis are recognized risk factors for human cancers at various sites. Nitric oxide (NO) and other oxygen radicals produced in infected and inflamed tissues could contribute to the process of carcinogenesis by different mechanisms, which are discussed on the basis of authors' studies on liver fluke infection and cholangiocarcinoma development. A similar mechanism could apply to other suspected and known cancer-causing agents including Helicobacter pylori infection (stomach cancer) or asbestos exposure (lung mesothelioma). Studies on the type of tissue and DNA damage produced by NO and by other reactive oxygen species are shedding new light on the molecular mechanisms by which chronic inflammatory processes may initiate or enhance carcinogenesis in humans.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Bacterial Infections / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Free Radicals
  • Helicobacter Infections / chemically induced
  • Helicobacter Infections / epidemiology
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / epidemiology*
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Parasitic Diseases / complications
  • Parasitic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Virus Diseases / complications
  • Virus Diseases / epidemiology


  • Free Radicals
  • Nitric Oxide