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Do Poultry Viruses Cause Human Cancers?

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The incidence of cancers has been rising for the final half century, and the query is why? Up to 20 p.c of all cancers are attributable to infectious brokers, mainly viruses. We’ve recognized this was doable for a century, when a cancer-causing virus was found in chickens. The thought was thought-about such heresy that Dr. Peyton Rous, the person who made this landmark discovery, wouldn’t get his Nobel Prize till 55 years later.

If there are cancer-causing rooster viruses, would possibly they’ve any impact on individuals who deal with or eat poultry? Concern has been raised in regards to the potential infectivity of cancer-causing farm animal viruses for many years. The first query was whether or not there was any proof of human publicity, and, certainly, individuals do have antibodies to those cancer-causing rooster viruses of their bloodstream. This signifies that the virus is not any stranger to our immune programs. Is there any proof, although, that the virus itself can get into our blood? There wasn’t any such proof…till 2001.

As I clarify in my video The Role of Poultry Viruses in Human Cancers, there’s a cancer-causing herpesvirus in poultry, however does it pose a public health hazard? Researchers used DNA fingerprinting strategies to check the blood of 202 individuals and located that 20 p.c, or one in 5 people, had viral DNA of their bloodstream. Testing constructive for avian herpesvirus doesn’t imply these ailments can essentially infect human cells, nevertheless. But, because it seems, they will certainly.

But do they trigger human illness? How can that be discovered? Since we will’t simply inject individuals, researchers checked out poultry staff, which is the best way we discovered how different farm animal ailments, comparable to brucellosis and anthrax, jumped to people. In reality, finding out staff can be how we found the carcinogenic nature of issues like asbestos and benzene. If the poultry staff, who’re uncovered day in and time out, don’t have greater most cancers charges, then presumably the viruses are innocent. Unfortunately, they do have greater charges. In reality, these with excessive publicity to cancer-causing poultry viruses have “increased risk of dying from several cancers.”

As such, “the relative ease” with which among the viruses can infect human cells, in addition to infect and trigger tumors in primates in laboratories, “may be of public health significance, particularly because of the…increased risk of cancer in meat workers” and the proof that we might change into contaminated with these viruses. However, even when poultry staff are in danger, it doesn’t imply individuals who merely eat rooster or eggs are. For instance, staff who kill chickens had been discovered to be six occasions extra prone to die from mind most cancers in comparison with staff who don’t kill poultry, however the slaughterers have reside birds flapping of their faces. The “intensity of exposure to these viruses in the general population cannot be expected to be as high as those experienced by poultry workers…[but] the general population is nevertheless widely exposed” to the viruses just because we eat so many chickens and eggs.

This is supported by information exhibiting that it’s not solely the manufacturing facility farm staff who’re at greater danger for mind tumors, but additionally butchers and meat cutters who haven’t any publicity to reside birds, notably those that don’t put on gloves and continuously have cuts on their arms. These staff are at greater danger for different cancers, as effectively.

Those who deal with meat for a residing even have greater charges of non-cancer mortality, comparable to elevated dying from coronary heart illness and different health issues outlined at 3:32 in my video. Some of the poultry viruses not solely trigger most cancers in chickens, but additionally atherosclerosis. Indeed, that cancer-causing poultry herpesvirus additionally triggers the buildup of ldl cholesterol crystals in chickens. But, what about in individuals? “Because chickens infected with Marek disease virus, a herpesvirus, develop atherosclerotic lesions after infection, [researchers] looked for the presence of herpesvirus or parts thereof in human artery wall tissue…” Evidence of the virus was discovered, although any function they play in human coronary heart illness stays speculative.

“Considerable attention has been paid to substances present in animal food before and after cooking as risk factors for human diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and various cancers…[and] exposures have included heme [iron], fat or cholesterol, dioxins,” and the cooked meat carcinogens. We didn’t assume, nevertheless, in regards to the animal viruses, which “are important not only for supermarket workers and other workers in the meat and poultry industries, but also because the general population is exposed.” Indeed, the research that discovered rooster virus DNA circulating in individuals’s bloodstreams additionally discovered about the identical charges in workplace staff as they did in rooster slaughterhouse staff, which you’ll be able to see at 4:42 in my video.


Other viruses may very well play a job within the weight problems epidemic. See, for instance, Infectobesity: Adenovirus 36 and Childhood Obesity

For different potential microbiological hazards in poultry, take a look at:

And, for potential chemical hazards in poultry, see:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

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