A new study published on Monday in the journal Nature Reviews Cancer suggests that a germ-free childhood followed by infections later in life can trigger childhood leukemia. The paper found out that acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type of childhood cancer, is caused by a two-step process.
The first step is a genetic mutation before birth that predisposes a child to the risk of developing this form of leukemia. The second step is exposure to certain infections later in childhood, after clean early childhoods that limited exposure to infections.
More specifically, children who grew up in cleaner households during their first year and interacted less with other children are more likely to develop acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the paper says.
… "The research strongly suggests that (this cancer) has a clear biological cause, and is triggered by a variety of infections in predisposed children whose immune systems have not been properly primed."
However, other experts warn that more specifics needs to be confirmed and emphasize that hygiene and safety are still crucial.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, known as ALL, is a form of blood cancer that is most often diagnosed in children ages zero to 4 years old, though older children and adults can also be diagnosed. It develops quickly, over days or weeks, building up in the blood and spreads to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, liver and nervous system. The main form of treatment is chemotherapy.
Find out more about this interesting study over at CNN.
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