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By Donna M. Bozzone

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Additional resources for Causes of Cancer (The Biology of Cancer)

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In developing nations, however, infection with EBV sometimes leads to various types of lymphoma, such as Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or Burkitt’s lymphoma. Lymphoma is a malignancy that involves the enlargement of the lymph nodes, spleen, and liver. EBV can also sometimes cause nasopharyngeal cancer, meaning that tumors form in the nasal passages and pharynx. Other examples of human oncogenic viruses include the human herpes virus 8 (HHV-8), which causes Kaposi’s sarcoma, a malignancy that produces red or purple blotches especially on the lower extremities; and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Viruses are parasites that are too small to be seen with a light microscope. Ironically, Rous with Richard Shope on the study of a virus that caused giant warts in rabbits. Sometimes these warts became malignancies. This research was very important because it showed that some mammalian cancers could be caused by viruses. Cancer-causing viruses were not limited to birds. Rous was 87 years old when he was awarded the Nobel Prize. The 55-year interval between Rous’s discovery of a tumor-causing virus in 1911 and his receipt of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1966 is certainly an example of delayed recognition.

The consequences of our modern diet are clear. The incidences of cancer of the colon and rectum are 10 times higher in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, and New Zealand than in other places around the world. It is also evident that changing the diet can lower a person’s risk for cancer. Regularly eating fresh fruits and vegetables lowers cancer risk. The relative percentage of fruits and vegetables in our diets should probably be more similar to what our ancestors ate. Why do fruits and vegetables lower the risk of cancer?

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