What is the Cause of Breast Cancer? A New Paper in a Medical Journal Presents a Surprising Answer

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

From: PR Newswire

Dr. Hanan Polansky from the CBCD published a new paper titled: “How latent viruses cause breast cancer: An explanation based on the microcompetition model.”

The Center for the Biology of Chronic Disease (CBCD) announces the publication of a new paper [1] in the science journal ‘The Bosnian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences.’  The paper is important since it answers the biggest question in breast cancer research today: What causes breast cancer in most patients?

Scientists know that certain genetic mutations in genes, such as the famous BRCA1, can cause breast cancer.  However, “only a small proportion of breast cancer, 5-10%, has a hereditary cause.”  This means that only a small number of patients have a mutation in their genes.  Most patients don’t have any mutations.  Today, the factor that causes breast cancer in the majority of breast cancer patients is unknown.  The paper identifies this factor.  According to the paper, certain latent, or hidden viruses can disrupt the expression of certain genes, including the BRCA1 gene, and cause breast cancer.  These viruses interact with a unique human factor called GABP, which turns on the BRCA1 gene.  The virus prevents GABP from turning on the gene, which causes a decrease in the BRCA1 expression, and breast cancer.

The paper identifies the HPV, EBV, CMV and other viruses, as the viruses that interact with the GABP factor.  It is well known that most people have at least one of the viruses that interact with GABP.  The question is, why only a few develop breast cancer?  The paper explains that the number of viruses is critical.  An individual may be infected with the virus and still be healthy.  The copy number in a cell, also called viral load, viral burden, or viral titer, is the determining factor.  According to the paper, an increase in the copy number of latent viruses increases the risk of breast cancer.

What increases this copy number?  A decrease in the efficiency of the immune system.  So a strong immune system is important.  However, many events can damage the immune system.  These events include stress, drugs, aging, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.  To quote from another paper by Hanan Polansky, recently published in the medical journal ‘Oncotarget’: “When such an event occurs, the efficiency of the immune system decreases, the copy number of the latent viruses increases, and the risk of cancer also increases.” [2]  In other words, these events damage the immune system, increase the copy number of latent viruses hiding in the cell, and increase the risk of breast cancer.

As of now, there are no approved drugs that target latent viruses.  The current antiviral drugs only target replicating viruses, or viruses that are in an active state.


[1] Polansky H, Schwab H. How latent viruses cause breast cancer: An explanation based on the microcompetition modelBosn J Basic Med Sci. 2018; Dec 23. Epub ahead of print. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30579323

[2] Polansky H, Schwab H. Copy number of latent viruses, oncogenicity, and the microcompetition modelOncotarget. 2018;9(60):31568-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30167078

[3] Polansky H. Microcompetition with foreign DNA and the origin of chronic disease. Rochester, NY: CBCD Publishing. 2003.

[4] Polansky H, Schwab H. Latent viruses can cause disease by disrupting the competition for the limiting factor p300/CBPCell Mol Biol Lett. 2018;23:56. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30505323

[5] Polansky H, Kestenbaum EH. Male-pattern baldness, common latent viruses, and microcompetitionJ Cosmet Dermatol. 2018;17(6):1286-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30019525