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A germ-free childhood could trigger leukemia

The article published in Nature Reviews Cancer covers a 30-year research process. Researchers discovered that acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type of childhood cancer, is caused by a two-stage process.

Leukemia risk for those who grew up in clean homes

The first step is a genetic mutation that predisposes a child before birth to the risk of developing this form of leukemia . The second step is clean living that limits exposure to infections. In other words, not being exposed to certain infections in childhood increases the risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

The study stated that children who grew up in clean homes during the first years of infancy and interacted less with other children in later years were more likely to develop acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The researchers discovered that when children weren’t in contact with enough microbes when they were young, they developed certain types of cancer in later years.

Exposure to microbes affects the immune system

Author Mel Greaves, Professor of Cancer Research Institute, suggests that cancer may be preventable. Greaves has done more than 30 years of research on the genetics, cell biology, immunology, epidemiology of childhood leukemia. Greaves has long researched “why or how healthy children develop leukemia in some other way and whether this cancer is preventable” . Greaves says the results of this research, conducted over a 30-year period, provide a reliable explanation for how childhood leukemia develops.

According to research, insufficient exposure to microbes in the first years of life leads to defects in the immune system. Infections in such cases cause leukemia in one out of 2,000 children. “Protecting children too much from germs invites cancer” Experts advise families not to worry about simple infections.

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