Human cancer and the food chain: an alternative etiologic perspective

H N Mozar, D G Bal, S A Farag
Nutrition and Cancer 1989, 12 (1): 29-42
Oncogenic viruses are among the known or presumed initiating agents of human cancer. Although evidence suggests that DNA and RNA oncoviruses may be acquired through multiple routes, our attention focuses chiefly on the ingestion pathway. We have two reasons for this. One is the possibility that viral as well as nonviral oncogenic amino acid sequences might be acquired at the top of the food chain. The other is that the food chain-infection hypothesis may reconcile several biological, ecological, and epidemiological phenomena. Transfection experiments suggest that the concept of infection may have to be broadened to embrace the cellular precursors of oncogenic viruses. Accumulating circumstantial evidence from viral oncology and molecular biology provides a basis for the belief that oncogenic viruses and their cellular precursors might be transmitted from animals to humans through the ingestion pathway. The possibility that such transmission may give rise to some human cancers must now be considered. The ingestion and genomic integration of food-associated DNA sequences may directly account for the increased risk of human cancer associated with an elevated intake of animal fat and protein. This paper addresses the role of infective oncogenic agents as the initiators, rather than the promoters, of cancer.

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