Cytomegalovirus common in brain, prostate, colorectal and breast cancers

Cytomegalovirus common in brain, prostate, colorectal and breast cancers

The presence of cytomegalovirus proteins and nucleic acids is found in both Glioblastoma and Medulloblastoma, and in other cancers from breast, prostate and colorectal to salivary cancer, with infection rates at 90-100%; but does it cause cancer?

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is also referred to as Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV).

CMV and brain cancer

A high prevalence of cytomegalovirus proteins and nucleic acids have been found in different brain cancer tumours. CMV is a beta-herpes virus. What is interesting is that the CMV is confined to the tumor cells, with non-cancer cells in close proximity to the tumours consistently virus negative (1). 

According to a 2019 study (2), CMV affects tumour stem cell factors, angiogenesis and immune pathways in brain cancer. 

Can you kill off CMV?

Unfortunately, antiviral therapy does not seem to improve outcomes in GBM patients. Studies targeting CMV antigens using expanded T-cells or dendritic cell vaccines do offer promise and larger studies are underway.


Natural compounds may help. A 2013 study showed that an extract of Elaeocarpus sylvestris inhibited CMV immediate early gene expression and replication (3). And a 2015 study (4) showed turmeric (or curcumin) could inhibit CMV by down-regulating heat shock protein 90.  


CMV and breast cancer


In a 2019 Review of Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and breast cancer, it was confirmed that classical human onco-viruses are estimated to play a role during carcinogenesis in 15–20% of cancer cases. Although the DNA and gene products of several onco-viruses have been found in breast tumors, there was no definitive proven link to the initiation of breast cancer until recently. HCMV) gene products are found in >90% of breast cancer tumors and metastases of breast cancers,and they have been linked to more aggressive breast cancer. A specific HCMV strain, HCMV-DB, has now been shown to cause cancer activity in normal breast cells in vitro, and even to give rise to fast-growing, triple-negative breast tumours when injected into immune deficient mice.


In clinical studies increased HCMV protein expression is found in triple negative breast cancer biopsies. HCMV is known to promote breast cancer and suppress the immune system changing the cellular environment.  HCMV-infected cells can even avoid detection and elimination by the immune system by inhibiting macrophages and T-cells.


CMV and prostate cancer

In prostate cancer, a 2012 study (6) showed high infection rates but no evidence, so far, of cause.

CMV and colorectal cancer

In colorectal cancer, a 2016 meta-analysis (7) starts by saying that Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is considered a factor in tumorigenesis; and after reviewing all available research at that time concludes that 'there is a statistical association between HCMV infection and the risk of Colorectal cancer'.

Go to: Review: Parasites, Viruses, Yeasts and cancer




  1. Cytomegalovirus in brain tumors Oncoimmunology. 2012 Aug 1; 1(5): 739–740. doi: 10.4161/onci.19441

  2. Oncoimmunology. 2019; 8(1): e1514921. Published online 2018 Oct 16. doi: 10.1080/2162402X.2018.1514921

  3. Elaeocarpus sylvestris and CMV -

  4. Curcumin and CMV -

  5. Review of HCMV and breast cancer: Cancers (Basel). 2019 Dec; 11(12): 1842. Published online 2019 Nov 22. doi: 10.3390/cancers11121842

  6. Prostate cancer and HCMV  - Cancer Causes Control. 2012 Sep; 23(9): 1511–1518. Published online 2012 Jul 19. doi: 10.1007/s10552-012-0028-5

  7. Human cytomegalovirus and colorectal cancer - a meta-analysis.


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