Role of viruses in the development of breast cancer

Kenneth Alibek, Ainur Kakpenova, Assel Mussabekova, Marzhan Sypabekova, Nargis Karatayeva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


The most common cancer worldwide among women is breast cancer. The initiation, promotion, and progression of this cancer result from both internal and external factors. The International Agency for Research on Cancer stated that 18-20% of cancers are linked to infection, and the list of definite, probable, and possible carcinogenic agents is growing each year. Among them, biological carcinogens play a significant role. In this review, data covering infection-associated breast and lung cancers are discussed and presented as possible involvements as pathogens in cancer. Because carcinogenesis is a multistep process with several contributing factors, we evaluated to what extent infection is significant, and concluded that members of the herpesvirus, polyomavirus, papillomavirus, and retrovirus families definitely associate with breast cancer. Detailed studies of viral mechanisms support this conclusion, but have presented problems with experimental settings. It is apparent that more effort needs to be devoted to assessing the role of these viruses in carcinogenesis, by characterizing additional confounding and synergistic effects of carcinogenic factors. We propose that preventing and treating infections may possibly stop or even eliminate certain types of cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32
JournalInfectious Agents and Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Breast cancer
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Infectious agents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Cancer Research

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