The study done by researchers of University of New South Wales found that both the human papilloma virus (HPV) and Epstein Barr virus (EBV) are present in more than half of malignant prostate cancers found in Australian men, as well as in a high proportion of benign and normal prostate samples.
"Recent unpublished experimental evidence by other researchers suggests that HPV and EBV can collaborate to promote the survival and proliferation of cancer cells, so our findings may well have important implications for understanding and preventing prostate cancer," study leader and Associate Prof at UNSW School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences Noel Whitaker said in a press release.
"Significantly, in our prostate samples we found a high-risk strain known as HPV 18, which is known to be associated with other human cancers," he added.
Prostate cancer tends to develop in men over the age of fifty. It may cause pain, difficulty in urinating, problems during sexual intercourse, or erectile dysfunction.
Earlier research has found that HPV is present in about 40 per cent of breast cancers as well. The new study found that HPV alone is present in about 70 per cent of the malignant prostate cancers sampled.
"I should caution that their presence is not conclusive of a role in prostate cancer..But given their well-established track record with other cancers, it would seem quite unlikely that they are harmless," Whitaker said.
EBV has also been linked to head and neck cancers, particularly in south-east Asian countries: like HPV, it is spread mostly by close skin contact, leading it to be dubbed "the kissing disease".
The findings were published in the journal The Prostate.