Health News

Cattle Virus Linked To Increased Risk Of Breast Cancer In Women

Bovine Leukemia

A link has been established between the bovine leukemia virus (BLV) and human breast cancer, researchers report.

The study analyzed breast tissue from 239 women. Tests concluded that the odds of having breast cancer if BLV was present were 3.1 times greater than if BLV was absent.

The odds ratio was higher than other risk factors for breast cancer, “such as obesity, alcohol consumption and the use of post-menopausal hormones,” said Gertrude Buehring, lead author and professor at University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health.

This odds ratio is higher than any of the frequently publicized risk factors for breast cancer, such as obesity, alcohol consumption and use of post-menopausal hormones.

The researchers discovered that an overwhelming 59 percent of breast cancer samples had evidence of exposure to BLV.

The retrovirus is easily transmitted among dairy and beef cattle through infected milk and blood, but it only causes disease in fewer than five percent of infected cows. BLV infects the blood cells and mammary tissues of cattle, reports Business Standard.

Until 2014, it was believed by the scientific community that transmission of BLV to humans was impossible, reports Medical News Today.

The most recent dairy study from 2007 – which involved 82 percent of the US dairy herd from 17 states — showed nearly 84 percent of dairy producing operations are positive for BLV, although only 7.5 percent of those had confirmed the presence of BLV in their operations.

Buehring says that overturning popular belief that BLV is not transmissible to humans is hard, resulting in “little incentive for the cattle industry to set up procedures to contain the spread of the virus.”

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.

In other news related to breast cancer, researchers in Britain have developed a simple blood test that can predict breast cancer relapse.

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