Scientists had discovered hepatitis B and C viruses can cause liver cancer and human papilloma virus (HPV) which can cause cervical cancer.
But the new research study using DNA analysis has shown that viruses could be implicated as the cause in 40 per cent of the 200 forms of cancer.
German virologist Harold Zur Hausen, who jointly discovered the link between cervical cancer and HPV, said in the paper the discovery could be ground-breaking.
He said: ‘Although we know that currently slightly more than 20 per cent of the global cancer incidence is linked to infectious events, some epidemiological observations suggest that this this percentage may increase’.
He also said that virus could be involved in skin, breast, guts and lung cancer.
An important result of the study was the discovery that an aggressive form of skin cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma, often follows infection by polyomavirus.
The virus, which is common in birds and mammals may also be the cause of other types of skin cancer.
POSSIBLE CAUSES OF VARIOUS CANCERS
- Hepatitis B and C - both cause liver cancer
- Human Papilloma virus - Causes cervical cancer
- Merkel cell polyomavirus - skin cancer
- Cytomegalovirus- could cause childhood brain tumours
- Epstein-Barr virus - causes blood and lymph sytem cancers
- XMRV - possible link to prostate cancer
Researchers also found that anti-viral therapies slowed down the growth of brain tumours in animals by up to 70 per cent – suggesting evidence of viral involvement in the disease.
The discovery is welcomed by sufferers of childhood brain tumours thought to be caused by medulloblastoma,
Kerry Edwards was a gymnast tipped to have a promising career before being struck down with the disease.
The operation to remove the tumour affected her balance and she still struggles to walk.
She told the Sunday Times: ‘Anything that can save people from what I have endured has to be a good thing.’
It is unknown why viruses cause infection as in most cases they invade a cell before altering it to produce more viruses – ultimately killing it.
However in cancer-causing viruses, it is thought, yet unproven, that they remain hidden in the cells for years, before subverting their hosts so that they cannot repair mutations.
Professor Luiz Gissmann a senior scientist at the German Cancer Research Centre told the newspaper: ‘Over the years such mutations can build up to the point where cells turn cancerous.’
The discovery could be life-changing with the possibilities of vaccinations against the key viruses, cutting the number of cancer sufferers - however the cost of development and trials will be enormous.
In Britain 310,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year, of which 156,000 will die
Alan Rickinson, professor of cancer studies in Birmingham is overseeing trials of a vaccine against the Epstein-Barr virus, identified as causing a rare blood cancer.
He said: ‘If we can understand how these viruses work we could prevent people from contracting them and even create therapies that use the patient’s own immune system to destroy infected or cancerous cells.’
- Cancer survivors suffer psychological scars similiar to those experienced in war more than a decade after diagnosis
- Gene linked to 70% of breast cancer patients
- Check Out Cancer Make You Go Bankrupt:Risk For 8 Types Of Cancer
- Human Papilloma Virus: FDA Okays Vaccine for Anal Cancer
- Key Discovery Helps Scientists Understand How Cancer Spreads
Category: Health/ Food/ Diet
There are no comments yet. Why not be the first to speak your mind.