Author(s): Lawson JS, Gnzburg WH, Whitaker NJ
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Abstract There are well-established risk factors for breast cancer, most of which relate to estrogens and growth hormones in females. These include early-age menarche, late-age menopause, postmenopausal obesity and use of hormone therapy. However, these factors do not account for the sixfold difference in breast cancer incidence and mortality between countries and the fact that these differences dramatically lessen after migration; nor do they account for male breast cancer. Accordingly, hormone-responsive viruses have become major suspects as etiological agents for human breast cancer. Human papillomaviruses, mouse mammary tumor virus and Epstein-Barr virus are the prime candidate viruses as causes of human breast cancer. Human papillomaviruses and the mouse mammary tumor virus have hormone responsive elements that appear to be associated with enhanced replication of these viruses in the presence of corticosteroid and other hormones. This biological phenomenon is particularly relevant because of the hormone dependence of breast cancer. Viral genetic material for each of these candidate viruses has been identified by polymerase chain reaction in breast tumors but rarely in normal breast tissue controls. Pooled data from controlled studies show substantial odds ratios for the presence of viral genetic material in breast tumors compared with normal controls. These and additional data provide substantial, but not conclusive, evidence that human papillomavirus, the mouse mammary tumor virus and Epstein-Barr virus may have a role in the etiology of human breast cancer. If conclusive evidence for a role of these viruses in breast carcinogenesis can be developed, there is a practical possibility of primary prevention.
This article was published in Future Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Cancer Science & Therapy