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Breast Cancer Linked To Bovine Leukemia

Infections from the bovine (cow) leukemia virus and breast cancer in humans have found to be associated, according to research from the University of California, Berkeley.

According to Tech Times, the findings from the research were robust, and a strong positive correlation was noted. The study, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, relayed how researchers examined breast tissue from 239 women, testing for the bovine leukemia virus and comparing samples from women with breast cancer and those who have no history of the disease. Based on those research findings, 59 percent of samples from women with breast cancer tested positive for the bovine leukemia virus. Only 29 percent of samples from those without breast cancer showed exposure to the virus. This, however, did not take into account exposure time.

Breast cancer, as frequently reported by the Inquisitr, is one of the top diagnosed cancers in first-world countries, with both men and women being affected, although the amount of cases diagnosed in women is far greater. While tremendous research and funding have gone to breast cancer, it continues to affect one out of eight women as a lifetime risk. Many forms have been discovered, with each requiring different treatment modalities. Some require biological therapy, others chemotherapy and radiation, and now there is more to consider with the findings of this study.

Gertrude Buehring, the lead author for the study, was surprised by the link between the bovine leukemia virus and breast cancer. It was just last year when the virus was confirmed to be transmittable to humans from cattle. Buehring did explain that while their study showed an association between the virus and breast cancer, it was not able to prove that the bovine leukemia virus actually causes breast cancer, because correlation does not always equal causation. Buehring was careful to state more research is needed.

“The tests we have now are more sensitive, but it was still hard to overturn the established dogma that BLV was not transmissible to humans. As a result, there has been little incentive for the cattle industry to set up procedures to contain the spread of the virus.”

Researcher Buehring notes that the data does not show how the virus invades breast tissue, but it could be through unpasteurized milk, uncooked meat, or human-to-human transmission, according to Medical News Today.

No statement has been made by the FDA regarding the results of this study nor guidelines for people when consuming cattle products.

[Image by Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images]

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