Could An Ancient Virus Be The Mystery Driver Behind Cancer?
T the most common virus found in humans is increasingly coming under the spotlight as a driver of many of the mystery illnesses plaguing humanity today. In fact, about 50% of children have been exposed to it at a very young age, and by adulthood, it is believed that at least 95% of the population has been affected by the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) .
EBV is an ancient virus, and has probably co-evolved with its different hosts over the last 90–100 million years (McGeoch et al., 1995). With the ability to establish lifelong latency and intermittent reactivation after primary infection and with limited clinical symptoms in the majority of infected individuals, EBV has become ubiquitous in all human populations. [R]
Along with herpes, shingles and chicken pox, EBV is part of the herpesvirus family (HHV-4 herpes). EBV can cause mononucleosis (the “kissing disease”) but usually it doesn’t. In fact, that is the problem – most EBV infections aren’t noticeable, even when they are active in the body.
While for most people it poses no serious immediate consequences (other than misery from cold-like symptoms and fatigue), it can pose long-term health consequences…
Once you are afflicted with EBV, it never leaves but for most people, it remains dormant throughout life. However, there are many triggers that can provide fuel to viruses and other pathogens in the body so that a dormant virus can take advantage and become reactivated. These triggers include stress, Cell phone radiation, pesticides, herbicides, paint fumes, and mold.
They can also be related to nutritional deficiencies, physical injury, toxic heavy metal exposure, and emotional trauma. EBV can get reactivated anytime your immune defences are down.
Women who have gone through a major life change, such as the death of a spouse or even menopause, may be particularly susceptible to the reactivation of the virus. While reactivation does not always present with symptoms, you may experience fatigue, aching muscles and joints, swollen lymph nodes, and other flu-like symptoms. People with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop symptoms when EBV reactivates.
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Epstein Barr Virus & Cancer: What’s the Connection?
What you need to know is that herpetic viruses such as EBV are often behind autoimmune disorders such as lupus, MS, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. and the EBV could even be fuelling breast cancer.
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Doctors rarely look to EBV as a cause of illness as the patient is often asymptomatic of the virus. Yet, a person suffering from a thyroid condition, auto-immune disorder, or cancer likely had a case of mono back in the college days that never really left their system. It just took up a new residence within the body and started causing more serious problems. And it is not just mono, but shingles, herpes, and a myriad of other viruses.
For years, researchers have been linking viruses to the development of cancers such as various lymphomas. Recently, however, the connection to breast cancer has been found to be incredibly strong.
EBV infects two major cell types, firstly, components of the immune system, known as B cells; secondly, epithelial cells, which line cavities of the body, blood vessels, and organs.
Studies & Researchers have found that 30-50% of breast cancer patients had EBV. Others put the number much higher, as high as 90%. Some research points to the idea that most of the time cancer is caused in part by a virus.
Yet all too often, patients are told that EBV or other viruses can’t be the problem. This may be because blood tests show antibodies that indicate a past infection, not a present one, or that doctors just don’t think to look for it.
EBV and Breast Cancer
In a study published in EBioMedicine in 2016, researchers led by Gerbury Wulf, MD, PhD, of the Hematology/Oncology Division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, reported that EBV may accelerate the development of malignant breast cancer. The researchers found that breast cells bonded to the Epstein Barr virus and that the virus lowered the threshold for transformation into a particularly aggressive form of cancer.
Dr. Wulf’s team of researchers cultured breast cells in the presence of EBV; specifically, they used cells known as primary mammary epithelial cells (MECs).
The team found that EBV binds to a specific receptor on normal breast cells called CD21, which leads to infection. The viral infection caused the breast cells to behave like stem cells – they were able to keep on dividing.
“We think that if a young woman develops EBV during her teenage years or later, her breast epithelial cells will be exposed to the virus and can be infected. While for most individuals, there will be no long-term consequences, in some the infection may leave genetic scars and change the metabolism of these cells,” explained Wulf. “While these are subtle changes, they may, decades later, facilitate breast cancer formation.”
A study done in 2014 found “a strong association between EBV and breast cancer carcinoma in Sudanese patients, and considerable epigenetic silencing of tumor suppressors that make likely be an outcome or an association with viral oncogenesis.”
The researchers detected EBV in all of the breast cancer biopsies and none in the normal breast tissue biopsies. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Sudanese women, and interestingly, there is a very low frequency of BRCA mutations in Sudanese breast cancer patients.
Over the years, EBV has also been associated with a number of specific cancer types such as African Burkitt lymphoma (a cancer of the lymphatics), Hodgkin’s disease (a blood cancer), nasopharyngeal carcinoma (a rare head and neck cancer), gastric adenocarcinoma (a type of stomach cancer), and leiomyosarcoma (a smooth muscle tumor).
An estimated 200,000 malignancies are caused by EBV annually.
Another study published in 2015 found an association between EBV and the development of breast cancer. While the study had inconsistent results, the researchers concluded that EBV and other viruses may play a role at a later stage in the development of breast cancer. They also hypothesized that this could explain elevated IgG levels associated with breast cancer.
Others have postulated that just fighting the virus could exhaust or dampen down the immune response, which might help cancer escape immune destruction.
Numerous other researchers have concluded that the role of EBV in the development and progression of breast cancer as well as in autoimmune disorders cannot be overlooked and should be investigated further
Cancers have a known cause, and this virus is one of them. Therefore, if your medical team is not aware of this connection, you will need to be your own advocate and take control of your care – which is always a good idea.
What You Can Do NOW to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk
Many natural compounds have the ability to suppress viral activation. Any food, supplement, or essential oil that is considered to be anti-viral and/or antibacterial or which can support the immune system and liver can help.
You likely have some of these beneficial herbs & spices and supplements on hand already:
Lemon Balm, Cilantro (coriander), Liquorice & Ginger are some of the ingredients which reduce inflammation (Nf-kB pathway), but there are a number of other companion ingredients and detoxes which should be included along with avoidance of certain foods such as eggs.
See our BiohackIT Tool for the full list of Anti EBV Ingredients and Maps showing how EBV Hi-jacks the body’s immune system and what you can do to keep the virus dormant.
- The epidemiology of EBV and its association with malignant disease
- Epstein–Barr Virus Infection of Mammary Epithelial Cells Promotes Malignant Transformation
- Epstein Barr virus: a prime candidate of breast cancer aetiology in Sudanese patients
- Cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr Virus in Breast Cancer
- Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) Genome and Expression in Breast Cancer Tissue: Effect of EBV Infection of Breast Cancer Cells on Resistance to Paclitaxel (Taxol)
- Epstein–Barr virus and rheumatoid arthritis: is there a link?
- Breast Cancer: a New Epstein-Barr Virus-Associated Disease?
- 5 Natural Antiviral Strategies
- Effect of high dose vitamin C on Epstein-Barr viral infection
- Review of pharmacological effects of Myrtus communis L. and its active constituents.
- A viral aetiology for breast cancer: time to re-examine the postulate.
- Epstein-Barr virus and the immune system – are cures in sight?
- Cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr Virus in Breast Cancer
- Research: EBV and Vitamin D
- The Essential Role of Epstein-Barr Virus in the Pathogenesis of Multiple Sclerosis