To study the etiologic factors of non-familial breast cancer, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Southern hybridization were used to detect six viruses including human papillomavirus (HPV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), herpes simplex virus (HSV)-1, HSV-2, and human herpesvirus (HHV)-8 DNA in 69 patients with breast cancer and 60 specimens from non-cancerous or other individuals with thyroid tumors or fibroadenoma (non-breast cancer controls). Two specimens from patients with a familial history of breast cancer and five breast cancer specimens with negative results for β-globin, which was used as internal control, were excluded from this study. Eight (12.9%) HSV-1, 28 (45.2%) EBV, 47 (75.8%) CMV, 8 (12.9%) HPV, and 28 (45.2%) HHV-8 positive samples out of the 62 breast cancer specimens were detected; no HSV-2 DNA was detected in any group. Among the viral gene-positive breast cancer samples, 12 (23.1%) were positive for 1 virus, 16 (30.8%) were positive for 2 viruses, 21 (40.4%) were positive for 3 viruses, and 3 (5.8%) were positive for 4 viruses. Among the viral gene-positive specimens of the control groups, only one virus, CMV, was found in the non-cancerous and thyroid tumor specimens, while multiple viruses were found in the fibroadenoma specimens. The viruses associated with breast cancer were HHV-8 > EBV (P < 0.01). The viruses associated with fibroadenoma were HSV-1 and HHV-8 > EBV (P < 0.01). The presence of more than one virus was found predominantly in breast cancer and exclusively found in fibroadenoma. CMV was the only virus associated with thyroid tumors. J. Med. Virol. 75:276–281, 2005. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.