Women, beware! Some of the most common viruses, some belonging to the Herpes family, may put you at increased risk for developing breast cancer. One such a virus is called Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
EBV, one of eight known viruses in the herpes family to infect humans, is also known as the cause of infectious mononucleosis and has been linked to various cancers, including African Burkitt lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, gastric adenocarcinoma and leiomyosarcoma.
Association of EBV infection with breast cancer has been reported in several studies, but it was unclear how the virus plays a role in breast cancer development or progression.
To reveal the reason, the researchers cultured breast cells called primary mammary epithelial cells (MECs) in the presence of EBV.
The researchers found that the EBV infection binds to the CD21 receptor on normal breast cells, leading to infection and inducing characteristics of stem cells, which then keeps dividing.