Long-term heavy nitrite inhalant (popper) use is associated with elevated risk of some virus-associated cancers with causes related to human papilloma virus (HPV), HHV-8, and Epstein-Barr virus infections in older HIV-uninfected MSM, according to a study published in AIDS.

Anupriya Dutta, PhD, from the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study of cancer risk in 3223 HIV-infected and uninfected MSM in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study from 1996 to 2010. The number of male sexual partners and sexually transmitted infections (syphilis and genital warts) was summarized during the first 3 visits following enrollment to avoid bias resulting from longer follow-up. A total of 327 fatal and nonfatal incident cancers occurring during the study period were classified using International Classification of Diseases for Oncology. Cancers were classified into 10 categories based on body sites and histology.

Poisson regression models were used to examine the association between heavy popper use (defined as daily or weekly use for at least 1 year) and risk of individual cancers or composite category of virus-associated cancers.

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Among all participants, heavy popper use was not associated with an increased risk of any individual cancers. Among HIV-uninfected men aged 50 to 70, heavy popper use was associated with an increased risk of virus-associated cancer with causes linked to HPV, HHV-8, and Epstein-Barr virus in models adjusted for demographics, number of sexual partners, immunological parameters (CD4 cell counts), and hepatitis B and C viruses (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 3.24) or sexually transmitted infections (IRR 3.03). Similar results were found for cumulative use during a 5-year period (IRR 1.012). There was no significant association between heavy popper use and virus-associated cancer in HIV-infected men.

“Although heavy popper use was not associated with increased risk of any individual cancers among all men, daily or weekly popper use for at least 1 year and increasing cumulative exposure were associated with elevated overall risk of virus-associated cancers with causes linked to HPV, HHV-8, and EBV in HIV-uninfected MSM aged 50–70 years,” said the authors.

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Dutta A, Uno H, Holman A, Lorenz DR, Wolinsky SM, Gabuzda D. Long-term nitrite inhalant exposure and cancer risk in MSM. AIDS. 2017;31:1169-1180. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000001451

This article originally appeared on Clinical Advisor