Shingles Not a Cancer Risk
While you certainly don't want to endure the pain and itching of a case of shingles, you can take comfort in the fact that a flare-up of the virus left in your body from your childhood bout with chicken pox wouldn't up your cancer risk, as had been previously suspected. This is especially good news in light of the fact that the shingles vaccine is not 100% effective. (Get your shot anyway, though!)
The lack of a link between shingles and cancer was established by a study done at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. A release from the hospital quotes Dr. Yi-Tsung Lin and coauthors as reporting: "We found no overall increased risk of cancer among patients with herpes zoster compared with the general population, regardless of sex, age or years of follow-up."
The study included data on other illnesses in patients with herpes zoster including diabetes, chronic obstructive lung disease, autoimmune disease, and heart disease. In their conclusion, the authors wrote: "These findings suggest that the extensive investigations for occult cancer at the time of diagnosis of herpes zoster or enhanced surveillance for cancer after such a diagnosis is unnecessary."