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HHV-8 seropositivity linked with prostate cancer
  By Anthony J. Brown, MD
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Men with prostate cancer are more likely to test positive for antibodies to human herpesvirus (HHV)-8 than are men without this malignancy, new research shows. This suggests that the virus may contribute to the development of prostate cancer.
The findings are the first to link HHV-8 seropositivity with prostate cancer. Still, senior author Dr. Frank J. Jenkins, from the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was quick to emphasize that "this does not mean that HHV-8 causes prostate cancer." Previous studies looking for the virus in the gland itself have yielded conflicting results, he added.
The results, which are reported in the January 1st issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, are based on a case-control study of 452 men in Tobago and Trinidad and 376 men from the United State.
In the West Indies cohort, nearly 40% of men with prostate cancer had anti-HHV-8 antibodies, nearly double the rate seen among men without this malignancy (p = 0.003), the researchers found.
In the US cohort, HHV-8 seroprevalence among prostate cancer patients was 20%, about 15% higher than the rate among male blood donors (p = 0.001) and about 7% higher than the rate among men with non-HHV-8-related malignancies (p = 0.253).
HHV-8 could serve as a co-factor for the initial development of prostate cancer or for the advancement to higher-grade lesions, Dr. Jenkins noted. Alternatively, "HHV-8 could simply represent a marker for some other infection that has a direct casual effect."
Currently, "we are looking at links between HHV-8 seropositivity and genetic polymorphisms that have been tied to prostate cancer," Dr. Jenkins said. "If you assume that the virus is causing the cancer, the next question becomes how."
J Infect Dis 2004;189:15-20.
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