(HealthDay News) — The presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA is associated with a three-fold higher risk of esophageal cancer, according to a study published online July 24 in PLOS ONE.

Surabhi S. Liyanage from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and colleagues performed a meta-analysis of 21 case-control studies (with a total of 1,223 cases and 1,415 controls) that examined esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) tissue for the presence of HPV DNA.

The researchers found that 35% of OSCC samples contained HPV DNA, indicating a significantly increased risk of OSCC with the presence of HPV (pooled odds ratio, 3.04). The association was stronger in regions with low to medium OSCC incidence (odds ratio, 4.65) than regions of high OSCC incidence (odds ratio, 2.65).

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“This study is the most definitive contribution to date about a question which has defied answers for 30 years: the association of HPV with OSCC,” Liyanage and colleagues conclude. “It further adds to the support of HPV vaccination as a cancer-preventing vaccine for children of both genders, to broaden the preventive targets of the vaccine.”

Two authors disclosed financial ties to vaccine companies.