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Front Public Health. 2014 Feb 13;2:14. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2014.00014. eCollection 2014.

Animal viruses, bacteria, and cancer: a brief commentary.

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Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University , Greenville, NC , USA.
Department of General Surgery, University of Virginia School of Medicine , Charlottesville, VA , USA.
Department of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine , Winston-Salem, NC , USA.
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University , Greenville, NC , USA.


Animal viruses and bacteria are ubiquitous in the environment. However, little is known about their mode of transmission and etiologic role in human cancers, especially among high-risk groups (e.g., farmers, veterinarians, poultry plant workers, pet owners, and infants). Many factors may affect the survival, transmissibility, and carcinogenicity of these agents, depending on the animal-host environment, hygiene practices, climate, travel, herd immunity, and cultural differences in food consumption and preparation. Seasonal variations in immune function also may increase host susceptibility at certain times of the year. The lack of objective measures, inconsistent study designs, and sources of epidemiologic bias (e.g., residual confounding, recall bias, and non-randomized patient selection) are some of the factors that complicate a clear understanding of this subject.


animal viruses; bacteria; cancer; epidemiology; infection

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