Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in Women. Researchers are working tirelessly not only to find a cure, but also to find the cause of this disease.
At the moment researchers are still unsure of how exactly breast cancer is triggered. Research has demonstrated that exposure to high levels of estrogen plays an important role. 17β-estradiol is a type of estrogen that has been given extra consideration because it is the most active hormone in breast tissue. About 70% of breast cancers are linked to this one molecule.
About 10% of breast cancer cases arise from environmental factors which include exposure to UV radiation and pollution, including cigarette smoke.
The remaining 20% of chases most likely come from some type of microbial infection, particularly viral. Microbiologists have stressed that these small pathogens play an important role in the development of cancer.
Several cancer-causing specifics have been identified such as hepatitis B virus, Epstein-Barr virus and human papillomavirus.
Unfortunately although viruses can cause cancer there is no confirmed link between any microbial invader and breast cancer. However, this may change thanks to a study released earlier this month by an American team of researchers.
Researchers found a high association between exposure to a virus and the onset of breast cancer. But the interesting twist is that it isn’t a human virus, but a virus that comes from cows.
Bovine Leukemia Virus has been known since the 1960s as the cause of blood cancer in the bovine population. Bovine Leukemia Virus is rampants with up to 100% of some dairy herds infected although only about 5% end up with leukemia. The virus has also been found to affect other animal species including sheep and rabbits and can be deadly.
About 10 years ago, traces of the virus’ genetic material was found in people suffering from leukemia and lung cancer although the data was entirely convincing, it raised a caution flag.
Last year some researchers found Bovine Leukemia Virus in breast tissue. The results suggested more research needed to be done to determine if there was any link to breast cancer.
Researchers decided to analyze breast tissue taken from women who had undergone mastectomies for breast cancer. As a control they took breast tissue from healthy women undergoing reduction surgery.
In total 59% of cancerous issue contained Bovine Leukemia Virus, in the controls that number was only at 29%. These findings offered a significant step in understanding the role of Bovine Leukemia Virus in breast cancer.
The authors how do not suggest that all women should be tested for Bovine Leukemia Virus. Although the results were significant and striking, they assert that more studies must be performed before the current process of testing for breast cancer is altered.