Image Credit: Manfred Richter / Pixabay. This image has been modified.

Do Poultry Viruses Cause Human Cancers?

The incidence of cancers has been rising for the last half century, and the question is why? Up to 20 percent of all cancers are caused by infectious agents, chiefly viruses. We’ve known this was possible for a century, when a cancer-causing virus was discovered in chickens. The idea was considered such heresy that Dr. Peyton Rous, the man who made this landmark discovery, wouldn’t get his Nobel Prize until 55 years later.

If there are cancer-causing chicken viruses, might they have any effect on people who handle or eat poultry? Concern has been raised about the potential infectivity of cancer-causing farm animal viruses for decades. The first question was whether there was any evidence of human exposure, and, indeed, people do have antibodies to these cancer-causing chicken viruses in their bloodstream. This indicates that the virus is no stranger to our immune systems. Is there any evidence, though, that the virus itself can get into our blood? There wasn’t any such evidence…until 2001.

As I explain in my video The Role of Poultry Viruses in Human Cancers, there is a cancer-causing herpesvirus in poultry, but does it pose a public health hazard? Researchers used DNA fingerprinting techniques to test the blood of 202 people and found that 20 percent, or one in five individuals, had viral DNA in their bloodstream. Testing positive for avian herpesvirus doesn’t mean these diseases can necessarily infect human cells, however. But, as it turns out, they can indeed.

But do they cause human disease? How can that be figured out? Since we can’t just inject people, researchers looked at poultry workers, which is the way we figured out how other farm animal diseases, such as brucellosis and anthrax, jumped to humans. In fact, studying workers is also how we discovered the carcinogenic nature of things like asbestos and benzene. If the poultry workers, who are exposed day in and day out, don’t have higher cancer rates, then presumably the viruses are harmless. Unfortunately, they do have higher rates. In fact, those with high exposure to cancer-causing poultry viruses have “increased risk of dying from several cancers.”

As such, “the relative ease” with which some of the viruses can infect human cells, as well as infect and cause tumors in primates in laboratories, “may be of public health significance, particularly because of the…increased risk of cancer in meat workers” and the evidence that we may become infected with these viruses. However, even if poultry workers are at risk, it doesn’t mean people who merely eat chicken or eggs are. For example, workers who kill chickens were found to be six times more likely to die from brain cancer compared to workers who do not kill poultry, but the slaughterers have live birds flapping in their faces. The “intensity of exposure to these viruses in the general population cannot be expected to be as high as those experienced by poultry workers…[but] the general population is nevertheless widely exposed” to the viruses simply because we eat so many chickens and eggs.

This is supported by data showing that it’s not only the factory farm workers who are at higher risk for brain tumors, but also butchers and meat cutters who have no exposure to live birds, particularly those who don’t wear gloves and frequently have cuts on their hands. These workers are at higher risk for other cancers, as well.

Those who handle meat for a living also have higher rates of non-cancer mortality, such as increased death from heart disease and other health concerns outlined at 3:32 in my video. Some of the poultry viruses not only cause cancer in chickens, but also atherosclerosis. Indeed, that cancer-causing poultry herpesvirus also triggers the buildup of cholesterol crystals in chickens. But, what about in people? “Because chickens infected with Marek disease virus, a herpesvirus, develop atherosclerotic lesions after infection, [researchers] looked for the presence of herpesvirus or parts thereof in human artery wall tissue…” Evidence of the virus was found, though any role they play in human heart disease remains speculative.

“Considerable attention has been paid to substances present in animal food before and after cooking as risk factors for human diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and various cancers…[and] exposures have included heme [iron], fat or cholesterol, dioxins,” and the cooked meat carcinogens. We didn’t think, however, about the animal viruses, which “are important not only for supermarket workers and other workers in the meat and poultry industries, but also because the general population is exposed.” Indeed, the study that found chicken virus DNA circulating in people’s bloodstreams also found about the same rates in office workers as they did in chicken slaughterhouse workers, which you can see at 4:42 in my video.

Other viruses may actually play a role in the obesity epidemic. See, for example, Infectobesity: Adenovirus 36 and Childhood Obesity

For other potential microbiological hazards in poultry, check out:

And, for potential chemical hazards in poultry, see:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

106 responses to “Do Poultry Viruses Cause Human Cancers?

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  1. I think the concept of poultry viruses causing cancer would be harder for people to comprehend because they don’t have a sense of what causes cancer.

    When my brother and sister-in-law talked to my brother’s oncologist, they were told, “No, your diet wouldn’t have been a significant contributing factor.”

    1. I read a new study that came out last week.

      Eating More Veggies Won’t Stop Prostate Cancer:

      This study included 478 men, ages 50 to 80. All had been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer and were under active surveillance, meaning they were closely monitored and did not receive treatment unless their cancer started to progress.

      The men were randomly assigned to either a control group that received written information about diet and prostate cancer or to a telephone counseling group in which they were encouraged to eat foods high in carotenoids. Those foods include leafy greens, carrots and tomatoes, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage.

      After two years of follow-up, the group on the vegetable-rich diet saw no extra protection against prostate cancer compared to the control group, according to findings published Jan. 14 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

      It’s the first randomized clinical trial to assess the effects of diet changes on prostate cancer.

      “These data indicate that, despite prevailing scientific and public opinion, eating more vegetables will not alter the course of prostate cancer. It will not, to the best of our knowledge, suppress or cure it,” said lead investigator Dr. J. Kellogg Parsons, professor of urology at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

      1. Pity you don’t provide a link to the actual study Greg. If you had, we would have learned that in fact there was a difference albeit a small one (men receiving dietary counselling experienced 2.1% less progression) and that ‘the study may have been underpowered to identify a clinically important difference.’

        We would also have learnt that the experimental group did not eat a WFPB diet – they were merely counselled to eat 7 or more servings of vegetables a day. The control group on the other hand received written leaflet information on diet and exercise. Since the standard advice to prostate cancer patients is to eat more vegetables and less red meat and dairy, both groups essentially got the same dietary advice The only real difference was between behavioural counselling on diet and written information on diet.

        I am afraid that this study doesn’t provide any comfort for low carbers like you Greg. For example, studies suggest that dairy products may increase prostate cancer risk

        Even the American Cancer Society comments
        ‘Men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat foods (especially dairy products) appear to have a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer. These men also tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables. Doctors aren’t sure which of these factors is responsible for raising the risk.’

        Little wonder then that there was only a small difference between the two groups – both were advised to eat more vegetables.

      2. The study is faulty as they failed to instruct the patients NOT to eat meat and dairy, onlyba whole food and only plants is what will reverse it. Too bad for those poor men, that no one told them the truth that would help them!

  2. And, no, I don’t agree with that doctor.

    I just know that people can mentally handle latching onto something like IGF-1 but it is hard for them to process 10 or 20 or infinite potential causes of cancer.

  3. I say it because I have spent my older years contemplating what contribution my nonstick rice cooker might have with obesity or cancer and my logic today is “Get rid of the rice cooker so you don’t have to figure it out over and over again.” But last week my logic was, “It probably isn’t a bigger factor.”

    1. @Deb
      Re non-stick rice cooker. I have one myself. It’s gets a lot of use. I’m curious as to what you or rather what your logic has discovered. I love information.

      1. Jude,

        I have my finger on my chess piece.

        I almost bought a Cuisinart professional steamer that has a glass serving dish and it has a lot of good reviews, but it also has some reviews that it stopped working after a year and that the water itself is in a plastic reservoir and the whole microplastics thing went through my mind.

        I looked at Breville and it also has a plastic reservoir.

        I found multicookers with clay pots and for that, it is attractive, but I am afraid that you have to season them with oil.

        There are rice cookers with stainless steel pots.

        Aroma has one with a stainless steel pot. It doesn’t clean as well as the nonstick but still gets good reviews.

        Some of the Japanese brands do have stainless steel inner pot models, too.

        I had such trouble with my Instant Pot and Consumer Reports and Wirecutter had the same problem, but a lot of people seem to have good luck with it. They have a rice and grain cooker and I laugh that I do have it in the back of my mind, but I have had more than one failure and Wirecutter reviewed Instant Pot as dead last with rice.

        I did find one silicone microwave rice cooker and that has great reviews except for one person who had theirs start turning black as if they burned the silicone. Silicone is supposed to be inert, but I suspect that melting it might still not be good for our health.

        Yes, I am not all that helpful yet.

        Still working on it.

            1. If you want to see the melted silicone pot, look at the reviews in Lekue Microwave Rice and Grain Cooker on Amazon.

              I thought silicone could stand the heat.

              I spent a lot of time and people do believe that silicone is not toxic (and by people, I mean authorities and the environmentally-oriented doctors and sites)

              Sous Vide with silicone zipper pouches is also on my list. America’s Test Kitchen did a rice experiment with Sous Vide and any grain could be done that way.

              Oh yeah, I forgot high water pasta style in a pot and draining it is what Dr. Greger recommends for rice anyway.

              If I weren’t trying to also solve for the rest of the grains and oatmeal, I would just stay with that.

              It doesn’t dry out, but you have to drain it and then put it back in the pan and steam off the rest of the water or your rice will be too wet.

              1. The other day, I set up my pot with a stainless steel strainer in the pot and just lifted the strainer out and that was so much nicer than pouring out the water or trying to test the doneness of food in the rice.

                For some stroke of luck, my stainless steel strainer fits exactly in the stainless steel pot I am using.

                I think I can just steam with that in a pot but that is my own dinner experiment.

                1. I also looked up bamboo steamers, but the top-rated one said, “It may not last very long” in its “cons” list.

                  The second top-rated one recommended using parchment paper to avoid stains, and I already had switched to silicone mats.

                  The Leuke silicone rice maker melting in the microwave made me wonder if Amazon is selling knock-offs that aren’t really made from silicone or what.

                  Yes, it really is such a complicated process.

                2. Regarding Stainless Steel, there are brands nowadays that are “no nickel” HOMI CHEF is one.

                  A site said that when seeing how much nickel is in your stainless steel, look for the number 18 and see what comes after it. For instance 18/0, 18/8 or 18/10. The 18 represents chromium and the second number represents nickel – the lower the second number, the better

                  1. The pans might not be as durable with zero nickel.

                    It seems like it is the length of time in the stainless steel and whether there are acidic products like tomato sauce.

                    I will tell you that I would make things like chili and leave them in the Instant Pot sleeve and put that in the fridge.

                    I have looked and I do think there really aren’t any good options.

                    I think maybe cooking the sauce in a glass bowl in the microwave and adding it later, maybe.

                    They aren’t sure about any of the types of cookware.

                    Not using any and just eating raw doesn’t tend to have better health outcomes though.

                    Silicone really can melt and if it gets in the food that is bad, too.

                1. Thanks, Marilyn.

                  I am going to try it for another grain and see if I can master it.

                  It certainly doesn’t burn or dry out.

                  Mine was a little bit soggy though.

                  1. The thing is, I have a credit on my credit card after Christmas returns and I have been mentally shopping, but I couldn’t find cookware that pleases me.

                    The house steamer pleases me – no matter how many logic steps I use. It still pleases me.

                    I will tell you that I use the same stainless steel pot every single day and it is an old one and it is holding up, so I guess until the stainless steel video, I am going to invest in the house steam cleaner and get rid of my rice maker.

                    I am still going to get rid of it. I don’t want toxic relationships with cookware.

              2. Japanese often soak rice overnight in a rice cooker and have it turn on automatically so it’s ready at breakfast time. So it seems to me you could soak overnight, drain and then use a rice cooker normally.

            2. Why not just buy a standard steamer cookset? Affordable quality and no fancy electronics to go wrong. Or the traditional Chinese bamboo stackable steamer baskets – same advantages and ecologically sound too.

              1. Tom,

                When you say, “standard steamer cookset” do you mean stainless steel?

                I have looked at the bamboo ones and was tempted by them. The review site gave as a “con” that they don’t last long and they didn’t define “long” so I don’t know what that means.

                The Cuisinart only lasting a year and one of the pressure cookers I had bought only lasted that long. It was before my Instapot and it was another brand and I loved it, but the concept of a throw-away appliance bothers me more than throw-away bamboo.

                I did find another silicone microwave steamer on Amazon from EU Choiz and it comes in 2 sizes and gets good reviews and doesn’t have any pictures of it being melted.

                How long do the bamboo ones last? Do you know?

                1. Deb

                  No, I don’t know how long the bamboo ones last – I suppose it depends on how and often you use them. They are cheap enough I think – especially if you buy them from a Chinese grocery rather than some upmarket store.

                  As for ‘traditional’. yes i was thinking of stainless steel but glass and/or ceramics are options too. the porcelain ceramic options are relatively expensive though anfd they are essentially a type of glass cookware since it is the glass layer that comes into contact with the food.

                  1. Tom,

                    Some sites say to oil the bamboo.

                    But others say you can soak it.

                    A lot of them say to use parchment paper, but I just saw one say to use cabbage or lettuce and that is an acceptable answer.

                    The concept of them not lasting long doesn’t bother me as much as a pressure cooker, Japanese rice cooker, or professional steamer not lasting long and those reports are in the reviews.

                    Well, I am going to try bamboo and I am not going to oil it.

                    Either it will become a favorite way of steaming or not.

                    I will also buy a silicone microwave steamer and both of them cost less than $20 and I can learn something.

                    1. Okay, my question will be, let’s say that stainless steel turns out to cause problems, does putting a bamboo steamer in a stainless steel pot get rid of those problems?

                      Does the water becoming steam not carry any potential toxins?

                    2. If steaming with a stainless steel pot doesn’t have potential “stainless steel problems” then I could just get a great big silicone strainer and put it in the pot.

                      Or just stick with my stainless steel pot with stainless steel strainer, but either way, I would prefer a once and done.

                      I think silicone is the way to go because it could be put either in the pot or in the microwave if I lose my brain again.

        1. If you choose one of the Japanese brands with a stainless steel insert, make sure that it is made in Japan, not China.

          It generally does say it somewhere on the page, but people have ordered one model and received the other model.

          The Japanese models are more expensive.

          1. If stainless steel ends up being toxic, too, I am going to be getting a silicone strainer and using my house steamer.

            I feel so happy about my house steamer logic, but stainless steel and planned obsolescence and microplastics and nonstick interiors and clay pots cracking unless they are seasoned with oil and soaked and bamboo not lasting long and getting stained and my Instant Pots having failed miserably.

            I feel like my house steamer may become my food steamer and while I am cooking dinner with it, I can steam clean my sink and my microfiber rags.

          2. I boil my brown Basmati rice until cooked, rinse it in a mesh strainer, pack it into portions and freeze. Defrost and microwave when ready to serve, comes out lovely and fluffy.

        2. Deb,
          >>Aroma has one with a stainless steel pot.

          Aroma also has what appears to be a high quality ceramic rice cooker. I wrote them to ask if they had test results or certification that the ceramic was lead-free. So far, no reply but my inquiry is less than a week old.

          Regarding stainless steel, my impression I got from some study I read (not handy) is that the real issue is whether one cooks with foods that are particularly acidic like tomato or not. If so, making a simple bean soup – beans and water might not be problematic.

          I still am undecided whether I think making rice in a teflon coated rice cooker bowl, as long as it has no scrapes, is an issue. It seems to me, off hand, that it does not get that hot, i.e. not hot enough to give off damaging chemicals. But I am not confident in this assessment (and realize Dr. J had enough concern to switch to an Instant Pot).

          1. Okay, Luminarc Vitro Blooming Heat-resistant Glass Cooking Pot has a glass steamer and it can be used in the microwave or on the stovetop.

            Better than having the Cuisinart break down and it moves me ahead of the whole stainless steel might leach, too.

            I do have to see if it is made in China.

            Shoot. Nothing can be easy.

              1. Yes, I agree.

                It says

                That it can be used on stove, on induction, on electric grill and in oven Microwave safe, dishwasher safe, fridge safe

                Made in France

                France is a better answer than China.

                I found another one made in the Czech Republic and one is Pyrex, but that may no longer be available.

                France is a good answer, I think. That part will take research, but I am looking at the

                Luminarc Vitro Blooming Cookware Set, 2-Quart Cooking Pot with Steamer Basket, 3-Piece set.

                If I can get them to say that they don’t have lead, I will invest to be safely out of the toxins zone.

                It can be used in the microwave and on an induction burner, elderly people with brain problems might invest for that reason alone if it doesn’t have lead.

                  1. Thanks, Gengo.

                    I am looking at Xtrema versa pot maybe for my things with sauce.

                    The weight without food of a smaller one was a little over 2 pounds.

                    They don’t have a steamer basket, so the France one is still on the table, but I like the concept of something with no heavy metals and no PFOA, PTFE, and Sol-Gel chemical ceramic non-stick coatings.

                    I am wondering if the EU has any brands they test and recommend.

          2. Yesterday, one of the pages I looked at recommended against ceramic and I can’t remember why.

            I did look at stove-top pots which were stainless steel lined with ceramic and they looked so beautiful, but I got to a page that warned about them and I can’t for the life of me remember why.

            1. I guess I have to research between

              Luminarc Vitro is made from Vitro-Ceramic, a unique material so heat resistant and durable that it was used by NASA in the design of Space Shuttle and it says that it is made of pure and natural material with extremely fine pores, antibacterial, odor and stain-free, thus 100% hygienic. The pot, steamer, and lid weighs 7.1 pounds with the box.

              That takes away my fear of it exploding and shattering easily.

              Well, if I go glass, I will stick with NASA.

              Then, when I bring my steamer and vegetables to my relatives house, I can tell them the NASA story and they might get distracted and eat some green beans.

              1. It would be too heavy for my 90-year olds.

                I feel like I mentally am the “Little Engine That Could” and I want to transition to “I know I can. I know I can. I know I can.”

                Environmental toxins have made that hard.

                1. I think I am going to buy one but I already know that I may reach an age where they may be too heavy for me and I might be checking to see if my robot vacuum can pick up glass pieces off of the floor.

                  (No, I don’t own a robot-vacuum yet, but I do follow them on-line and they are getting better and better and cheaper and cheaper, so it could happen.)

          3. I have been using an Aroma stainless steel rice cooker for about two years to cook combinations of different types of rice and lentils. They don’t stick much to the pot when taking them out warm, and any that sticks is easily removed by soaking the stainless steel liner.

            Aroma also makes a stainless steel steamer basket, so I usually steam vegetables when I make the rice/lentils (but for a shorter time).

            I use it almost every week and have been very pleased with it. I make a big batch and use the rice/lentils as the base for my veggie bowls throughout the week.

              1. Agreed.

                It is helpful.

                No matter what, I am going to be buying a few different things.

                I don’t see it as if there will be safer or more reliable brands 10 years from now.

                For instance, the gass without lead or ceramic up to Californias standard may not exist then.

                I do have an excellent Aroma with the nonstick coating, but it is old and there are a few nicks in the coating but they were made to last 20 years when I got one and I could but a new pot if I wanted.

                But life will get more and more toxic and Amazon will sell more and more knock-offs and some of the craftsmen will die or go out of business.

                The multicookers have already started planned obsolescence but it is likely to get worse rather than better.

                It is hard to catch the wave of an industry between well-built and affordable.

                Right now, robot vacuums are a highly competitive industry so they aren’t dumbing them down yet, but they will eventually.

                I think next year will be the wave for that because of the new AI coming in.

                I don’t see cookware having a wave.

                1. Meaning, safety concerns will go up but natural resources will go down and become more polluted and the global economy will cause manufactures to make choices.

          1. Another site gave how much iron, nickel, etc. and their advice was to have a few different ways to cook and diversify to avoid getting too much of any one toxin.

            If you use cast iron exclusively, you might overdose on iron. If you use stainless steel with acid, you might get too much nickel. If you scratch your pan and the aluminum shows through, you might end up with brain problems.

            For Dr. J., Instapot has an 18/8 so it is lower in nickel. It might get higher temps, but it does it for shorter cooking times, so it is better than a lot of cooking methods for that particular exposure.

            What I do know is that even California didn’t help all that much, except that I can get the safer products and mix it up.

            Some people do not believe silicone is safe, for instance. It hasn’t been tested enough, they say.

            It feels like time will tell is the answer.

  4. Doc Gregor’s pic of that chicken should make anyone go “ye-e-ech!”/ Luckily we got off America’s favourite meat from reading “How Not to Die”.

  5. I use a SS stovetop pressure cooker for my brown rice. I place a SS bowl inside the PC with water and rice in it. Of course you have to put water in the bottom of the PC. Pop the lid on and let it jiggle approx 10 minutes. Remove the PC to the side and when the pressure goes down it’s ready to open and enjoy. My mom covered her inside SS bowl with alum foil instead of risking the excess steam water that might settle into the bowl. I don’t mind draining a bit of water or if it sits a while then the rice absorbs much of it. This is not electric PC. I’ve travelled the US with a min electric hot plate and cooked in motel room with kids. In fact, it is still the same PC and it never failed me. Be Well!

    1. Ruthie,

      We used to have one of those pressure cookers but years ago, I watched one explode and that scared me.

      Glad you have had good experiences.

      I am really trying to avoid aluminum because of my brain problems.

      The site I researched things on said that it is particularly the foil pans and aluminum foil that you don’t want to use.

      The reason I won’t risk it is because it was drinking Fiji Water with silica to get rid of aluminum that got rid of my night terrors and hallucinations and they haven’t come back, but the silica working made me extra vigilant about not wanting aluminum foil or aluminum in baking products or personal care products.

  6. Today’s topic should open many eyes. It’s scary stuff. I’ll be sharing it to see if it rattles anyone that knows me. Should be interesting.

    1. Never know what to believe concerning supplements

      Marine fish oil is more potent than plant-based n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the prevention of mammary tumors – ScienceDirect


      Fish Oil –
      Multiple trials demonstrated that fish oil supplementation can improve outcomes during or after cancer treatment, such as improved response rate, increased function, and improved quality of life.

      Improvement With Systemic Anticancer Treatment

      A small RCT of 46 patients with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) received fish oil (2.5 g EPA and DHA) in addition to the standard of care (SOC) chemotherapy (carboplatin with vinorelbine or gemcitabine).5 Adding fish oil resulted in a greater response rate at 60% compared with 25.8% with the SOC (P = .008). Clinical benefit was also greater in the fish oil group compared with the SOC group (80% vs 41.9%; P = .02). Overall survival at 1 year trended toward improvement with fish oil compared with SOC (60% vs 38.7%; P = .15), but was not significant. Dose-limiting toxicities were similar between groups.

      Another RCT supplemented patients with colorectal cancer with 2 g fish oil (0.6 g EP and DHA daily) daily for 9 weeks. The supplemented group demonstrated a significantly prolonged time to tumor progression (593 vs 330 days; P = .04) compared with the control group.6There was, however, no difference in the number of chemotherapy cycles, delays or interruptions, hospitalization, or days until death or progression, and 3-year survival.

      Another RCT of 61 patients with esophageal cancer undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy found that omega-3 fatty acid–rich enteral nutrition resulted in less stomatitis (P = .018), aspartate aminotransferase elevation (P = .012), and alanine aminotransferase elevation (P = .015) compared with omega-3 fatty acid–poor enteral nutrition.7 Grade 3/4 diarrhea occurred less frequently with fish oil, but the difference was not significant and there was no difference in grade 3/4 leukopenia or neutropenia.

      A study of 41 patients receiving paclitaxel demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation reduced peripheral neuropathy (odds ratio, 0.3; 95% CI, 0.10-0.88; P = .029).8 Another study of 70 pediatric patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia found that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation (1000 mg/d) reduced methotrexate-induced hepatotoxicity, as indicated by biomarkers of liver toxicity.9

      1. O, and Greg, this may relate only to Cisplatin chemo.
        However, the best course may be fasting a couple of days before, during, and a day after chemo. Studies show that tends to protect normal cells, and cause cancer cells to be more vulnerable.

      2. As usual, your statements are somewhat misleading.

        First of all, the ‘Marine fish oil is more potent than plant-based n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the prevention of mammary tumors’ claim refers to a study in mice not humans. Secondly, it did not compare fish oil with marine algae oil. The comparison was with safflower and flax oil.

        All those studies show is that marine omega 3 oils appear to benefit trial subjects. Nowhere do they show that omega 3 fish oils are superior to omega 3 algal oils ……….. although this appears to be what you are suggesting.

  7. If as much or more chicken cancer virus DNA was found in office workers as in chicken slaughterhouse workers, doesn’t this imply that the virus is not, in fact, the cause of the six times higher brain cancer rate among the slaughterhouse workers? Maybe it is some chemical used for disinfecting, for example.

  8. For over 25 years many studies have shown that Obesity (and not just in children) is caused by another chicken virus.
    Somehow Dr. Gregger seems to ignore it.
    25 year review of Adenovirsus and obesity – 2018

    By The way, I love 99% of Dr. Greger’s data, and have become 99% plant-based and really love it. Here is the web page I have dedicated to Dr. Greger at VitaminDWiki which points to 15 of his studies.

    1. Henry,

      He may get to that virus eventually.


      With 100,000 studies per year or something like that, it takes a while to get to them all.

      1. Barb,

        “The best lies are based on the truth, at least in part” ― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel

        I’ll read what Kaci said. My quick take scanning the article was that it was a mishmash of well known truths, possible but unsubstantiated truths (e.g., choline), over generalizations, unarticulated assumptions and misleading implications. I really dislike articles without references and that lack a balanced perspective, especially when it comes to something as complex as nutrition and health.

  9. Has anyone else noticed the elephant in the room?

    In re: that elephant… If the Coronavirus causes a similar-to pneumonia type of illness, would it help to get a pneumonia vaccination?

      1. pneumonia vaccination protects against bacteria, not Virus.
        So is the pneumonia stage they keep referring to some sort of viral pneumonia?

    1. If it’s viral pneumonia, I would assume so. I got one at age 65 and another (supposedly better) one a few years ago at 73. Still need a shingles vax.

      1. I’m not a staunch pro or con vaxer, although I haven’t received any vaccinations since my army days back in the late 1960s.

        But if the 2019-nCo-V remains persistent, I may just get that pneumonia vaccine. ‘-)

  10. I am not sure if it is on topic or off topic but I ended up starting to read Dr. Greger’s Bird Flu book.

    Mostly, because when I read the med school one, I saw the reviews of the Bird Flu one and it said things like, “It’s a zinger.”

    So far, it is a zinger.

    I am actually working on getting W-2’s ready to mail out, so why not have some light topic.

    Yes, I tend to work at power walk pace and then, pause and read or something else to cleanse the mental palate.

    Anyway, chicken viruses made me think about the bird flu book and the first chapters hooked me in.

    1. I think I watched a documentary on it.

      Pretty sure.

      The concepts of up to 100 million people dying or half the population of Alaska dying
      or having the lifespan of America drop to 37 years old aren’t specifics I remember from the documentary but I guess I may have to watch it again when it comes back on PBS.

      1. So it killed so many young people back then because it caused autoimmune disease?

        Okay, my mind will have to wait to do the math tomorrow.

        That spread so fast and killed 95% of the people who got it and aimed at the young people and was an autoimmune disease caused by a virus?

        Not sure my reading comprehension is working full-speed.

        So this current chicken virus of this blog differs greatly from the virus where so few people survived.

        I am certain it had to be the same flu.

        Mentally, I missed the part in the documentary where they would call it the Spanish Influenza or the French Flu or mention bird flu.

        But I did see the part where they talked about running out of gravediggers and coffin makers and nails and having to stack bodies like cords of wood.

        Were you mentioned in the documentary?

        The credits are so small that I missed it.

        1. Okay, it isn’t causing an autoimmune disease pre say like the whole MS, Hashimoto’s?

          Does disease imply a slower process?

          It is causing a cytokine storm.

          Worse than a glutamate storm.

          I am going to see if turmeric helps with cytokine storms, too.

  11. Okay, it was the same flu.

    The concept that it may have killed over twice as many people as WWI is astounding for that generation to have gone through.

    The people from my family who had been alive back then were the funniest, sweetest, best caretakers, strongest family members I have ever known.

    The concept that they went through that when they were teenagers makes me appreciate who they became as adults even more.

    They could have died in their twenties but lived into their 90’s. Good immune system. Maybe because they were poor and eating vegetables?

    1. I am captured by the reality that the 6 people that I knew from that generation had such a high likelihood of not having lived through their 20’s and if my great-grandmother had not lived, my grandmother and her 5 siblings would not have been born and my mother would not have been born and my brothers and I would not have been born.

      50% of the population of some States died back then.

      It was almost a flip of the coin of whether I would be alive or not.

    2. Deb, here’s what I have come to know over the years about the “Spanish” flu pandemic. My mother was alive as a young child back then and her mother, my grandmother was a person others would call on when sick. She wasn’t a trained nurse… just a willing care-giver. One of her treatments for those who came down with the Spanish flu, in the small rural community they lived in, was an onion poultice. I see the sense in that as I have learned that leaving a cut onion out (or even in the fridge) can soon be covered in germs from the air.

      Something I learned from the SARS outbreak was that those who had been exposed during the Spanish Flu outbreak had conferred some level of immunity to their later offspring epigenetically.

      IIRC, during SARS the younger ones were the ones who were more at risk, meaning they were likely to be second generation removed from those originally exposed To Spanish Influenza… thus somewhat confirming that epigenetic changes can weaken or disappear in following generations.

      Some observations about 2019-CoV… it is not as deadly, percentage-wise, as SARS. On the other hand, it becomes transmissable almost immediately after being exposed. The incubation period is 10 days so during that 10 day period you expose everyone you come in contact with. SARS was different as you had to first present symptoms before becoming transmissable.

      Something I’ve adopted when encountering a door you have to push to enter or exit a building… I reach up as high as I can reach and push from there. Nobody reaches that high to open the door so there shouldn’t be any germs up there. Some buildings have a wide hand grip to pull open… on those I use one finger to hook at the bottom to open the door.

      Probably best to just wear gloves.

      During times when there may be a possibility of influenza going around I often run my room ionizer machine. I also do this when the air may have VOCs (volitile organic compounds) inside. Pure air is almost as important as pure water, IMO. (

      1. Lonie,

        Thanks for sharing. Onions.

        I am eating my salad every day, but I stopped eating onions when I started having to chop them myself to get their superpower, but if the flu comes to town, I will have to start. I am the only one who didn’t get sick with the flu at Christmas/New Year around me. I do the same, don’t touch the handle of the shopping cart technique that you use. I did buy some of the Silvertize cloths to use as hand sanitizers for when I visit hospitals.

        I found a few articles about how to stop a cytokine storm and vagal nerve stimulation is one thing, so I will have to pull out my Micropulse ICES if I ever get one.

        Omega 3’s were mentioned in a few resources.

        But I am a little confused about the turmeric and NSAID thing. It seems like the logic goes back and forth with those.—why-they-are-dangerous-and-can-kill

          1. Other sites say green tea can inhibit the pathogenesis of the flu-infected cells and polyphenols, flavonoids and triterpenoids from herbs may protect against cytokine storms if you have severe flu.

            Some of the articles keep talking about sepsis and I have friends and a relative who died from sepsis.

            The concept that they needed flavonoids and polyphenols and vagal nerve stimulation to maybe have stayed alive is why we have to learn things ahead of time and try them when the time comes.

        1. Good news is (though a small sample size) none of the 5 (at last count) infected from the U.S. have died.

          Maybe we have better care than China?… or maybe it is like I said before… small sample size.

        2. but I stopped eating onions
          Just to clear, I’m not sure if eating onions was helpful, although I have heard that onion soup is good and healthy.

          But in my Grandmother’s treatment the onion was used as a poultice on the chest… supposedly since that put it right in the path of the nose airway.

  12. I rescue chickens (from homes, factory farms, fighting operations, animal control) and by working with the state poultry lab discovered that reproductive cancer is the number 1 cause of death of egg-laying hens. I looked at research papers at my local university, and paid attention to the birds over the course of over a decade. I was able to eradicate cancer in my flocks by taking several steps. I make sure there’s no light shining on them that disrupts the day length, as this regulates their egg production. Research shows that hens exposed to extra light of a certain wavelength reliably develop reproductive cancer. This is commonly done in commercial operations, so one can assume that most eggs come from hens with reproductive cancer. Interestingly, when the natural day length is restored, the tumors go away. Also, it’s difficult to get organic hay. I don’t use hay as bedding because it causes impacted crop (chickens can’t digest it, and it gets caught in their digestive system — I’m against those that are put on pasture for this reason, and the fact that they die in heatwaves, are scared of and killed by flying raptors, and are forest creatures). I had a flock that roamed with my rescued goats, and got into some hay. This flock had several cases of throat cancer, whereas none of my other flocks had any. Hay can contain herbicides and biocides. I now feed organically only to prevent cancer, and keep them away from hay. And of course, they are omnivores like us, and fruits and vegetables are good for them, too! They greatly prefer organic produce, and would leave non-organic produce uneaten — it seems they can tell the difference. Considering that glycophosphate weedkillers and some pesticides have been implicated in cancer cases in humans, that makes sense. Chickens are wonderfully intelligent and charming creatures who can live 25 years when kept by someone who knows how to care for them. They form strong bonds with their caretaker and are always happy to see you. It’s a shame what we do to them.

    1. I also vaccinate for Marek’s disease, which effects young birds. There’s a similar cancer-causing virus that affects a small percentage of older birds, but I haven’t seen a case of it since I changed to organic food. It’s a common virus in birds from large commercial operations. Don’t use vaccines created in eggs if you want to avoid that virus. (It’s much easier now to get a yearly flu shot that’s egg-free.)

        1. I greatly admire those on the front lines of animal rescue.
          Along the lines of what CP is doing, I saw a piece on the local news about a new group near Austin TX that were taking in damaged animals and inviting young people with autism and other disabilities to interact with the disabled animals. They claimed good interaction between them.

          There was footage of dogs with no hind legs attached to wheels in their place and one dog with only one leg being pulled around in a wagon. They were asking for a place to keep some more animals as they were running out of room at their present location.

          The lady also mentioned they accept donations and the good part of that was that she didn’t try to tug on heart strings by sounding whiney or playing donation music. She just spoke matter-of-factly about how things were and didn’t try to guilt anyone into giving. Still, if I were a giving person I probably would have donated… but I consider I have given enough time as a caregiver to not feel guilty about not being a donator.

          Besides, I am currently living like a Pauper (all disposable income going to build an Industrial Hemp stock portfolio) so I can live like a King in years to come. ‘-)

          A very self-empowering way of life. ‘-)

          1. Lonie, Found that very interesting and tracked down the group, really a family:Safe in Austin, and looked at a video. Incredible family!

            Btw: ever consider diversifying that hemp portfolio? :-)

            1. Btw: ever consider diversifying that hemp portfolio? :-)
              Well, I did buy into a low-priced oil stock. It was doing well until the corona virus in China caused the market to crash. I also have a hemp testing stock that is “under-water” from where I bought it.

              On the good side I have a low-priced Chinese based but doing business world-wide, wind and solar utility, also a small bio-tech company that has doubled in price.

              I had meant to use the oil stock as my safe depository as it wasn’t too far in debt and had hedged their production against a price down-turn, but I think those hedges ran out this year and I do not know if they re-established them. Probably not since the stock price is in steady decline with the price of oil.

              So now if I get in trouble financially, I’ll just sell my utility and bio tech, but I’d rather not sell my winners if I can help it. ‘-)

              The Hemp stock is under-water from where I bought almost all of it but that doesn’t concern me. I bought it to hold for up to five years if necessary. The more it went down, the more I added to my position.

              I’ve got a bunch of it but it is at such a low price now I’m considering selling one of my winners and just buy some more Hemp. ‘-) ‘-) ‘-)

  13. Dear Dr. Greger,

    I greatly appreciate the time you took to write this blog post. I have read i thoroughly and taken a look at all of your references and I have a few questions I’d like to discuss.

    You site this article argueing humans can catch MDV, but the article states:
    “The prevalence of MDV DNA was not significantly different in the group exposed to poultry and the group not exposed to poultry.”

    You use this research where they injected chickens with cancer mash. The chickens injected got cancer. Do you think if the chickens ate the mash they would still get it? The tumors were found at the site where they were injected. It is clear that if we inject a chicken cancer into other chickens, that site will get the cancer, but is this real evidence it can be transmitted to humans?

    This website says that MDV is transmitable to chickens but not to humans.

    3) To make your case that it is transmittable to humans, you look at people who work with meat.
    What do you think about the very large CI on these Odds ratios? This is very compelling.

    But then you site this study,
    Claiming that meat butchers are being infected by the meat. As a computer programmer though, I noticed my odd ratio risk was essentially just as high as the butchers.

    ” butchers and meat cutters (odds ratio [OR] = 2.4; 95% confidence limits [CL]: 1.0, 6.0), computer programmers and analysts (OR = 2.0; 95% CL: 1.0, 3.8)”

    Many other professions also had increased risk. Could there be something going on here causing cancer in these groups that is not related to meat handling? Since this is epidemiology, could there be confounding factors like stress or diet, smoking, genetics or anything else that could impact these results? It doesn’t seem like they controlled for anything.

    4) it is clear to me that HDV is transmittable from bird to bird. I am not sure if this is worth causing a huge alarm and putting people in fear of eating meat. There is no evidence here that eating chicken gives you HDV. In fact, there is not evidence that feeding HDV feed to even a rat would cause HDV. All we know is injecting chicken tumor into another chicken causes more tumor growth in that new chicken. I suspect if we took human tumors and injected them into other humans, that they would also grow? I am not sure but is there research on that?

    Thanks again for this interesting read and providing the best case you can.

    I just am wondering if you genuinely believe this is case for alarm, or if it is just education on how to take care of your chickens.

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