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Tainted Vaccine Not Linked to Cancer

Posted on: 08/31/2004

Tainted Vaccine Not Linked to Cancer

Tue Aug 31, 2004 04:15 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - US Army veterans who received a vaccine contaminated with simian virus 40 (SV40) are not at increased risk for brain tumors, a lung cancer called mesothelioma, or lymphoma, new research suggests. In the 1950s and 1960s, several hundred thousand military recruits received the tainted vaccine, which was suppose to protect against adenovirus, a virus that causes respiratory problems. Since then, concerns have been raised after SV40 DNA was identified in specimens of brain tumor, mesothelioma, and lymphoma, according to the report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

To investigate a possible link with these cancers, Dr. Eric A. Engels, from the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland, and colleagues assessed exposure to the vaccine in 411 male Army veterans who developed one of the three implicated cancers. A group of 221 veterans with lung or colon cancer -- cancers without an apparent SV40 link -- served as a comparison group.

Exposure to the tainted vaccine did not significantly affect the risk of brain tumors, mesothelioma or lymphoma.

Although the current findings provide no evidence of an association between SV40 exposure and cancer, the authors note that additional research is needed.

SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology, August 15, 2004.

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