Childhood Vaccines May Reduce the Risk of Cancer, Study Says

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Babies, Health

cancer vaccine picture

Study shows the hepatitis B vaccine may reduce the risk of kids getting one form of leukemia. Credit: Getty


Childhood vaccines actually prevent (wait for it, wait for it) childhood diseases.

Wow. Who woulda thunk it?

Certainly not the vaccines-cause-autism crowd. Then again, does anyone other than Jenny McCarthy still buy that theory?

Real scientists think vaccines are pretty darn wonderful. And they may be even more wonderful than originally thought.

Reuters reports the vaccine for hepatitis B may actually reduce the risk of kids getting cancer, particularly one form of leukemia.

A study published in The Journal of Pediatrics shows that kids born in countries where most children get vaccinated for hepatitis B reduced their odds of getting cancer by about 20 percent. That's compared with countries where fewer kids are vaccinated.

Countries where kids are regularly vaccinated against hepatitis B and polio have a 30 to 40 percent less chance of getting lymphoblastic leukemia, the study shows.

All this is based on actual scientific investigation and statistical analysis, not "my son got vaccinated and now he won't shut up about trains."

Still, scientists aren't breaking out the champagne bottles just yet. They realize they haven't found a way to beat cancer.

"We don't think it's the end-all, be-all," Dr. Michael Scheurer, one of the study's authors from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, tells Reuters.

The news service reports one reason the vaccines might cut down the cancer rate is the theory that common infections weaken children's immune systems, leaving them vulnerable to cancer.

Vaccines reduce the risk of more common infections and, by extension, lessen the risk of cancer.

That's one theory, anyway.

Scientists tell Reuters they're not prepared to make any sweeping generalizations regarding vaccines. Well, maybe one: Andrew Wakefield is a doo-doo head.

He's the British doctor who found himself banned from practicing medicine last year. An investigation by the prominent British Medical Journal concluded his 10-year crusade to link vaccines to autism was an elaborate hoax based on false evidence.

Now that Wakefield has been discredited, Scheurer tells Reuters, maybe "people can take a step back and really look at the benefit that vaccines provide, not just for the infectious diseases that they were intended to prevent. Now, there appears to be some other added benefit."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.