Really interesting (and scary) for those of us who have no known exposure to
asbestos...and are battling meso..I'm sending on to Dr. Pass for his
comments too...there was a story on NBC news last night about this...
PS George & Joanne..could you pls print and show to Bill and Pierre ...both
of whom, like me, are young and have no known exposure to asbestos...Maybe
Dr. Clement too. Thanks.
From: Theresa Zeman
Sent: Friday, February 19, 1999 9:25 AM
To: Cori Harth
the first article can be found at:
Pre-1963 polio vaccines may be killing hundreds through cancer
By Robert Matthews Science Correspondent
ISSUE 1360 Sunday 14 February 1999
London Sunday Telegraph
THE mass vaccination campaigns of the Fifties and Sixties may be causing
hundreds of deaths a year because of a cancer-causing virus which
contaminated the first polio vaccine, according to scientists.
Known as SV40, the virus came from dead monkeys whose kidney cells were used
to culture the first Salk vaccines. Doctors estimate that the virus was
injected into tens of millions during mass vaccination campaigns before
being detected and screened out in 1963. Those born between 1941 and 1961
are thought to be most at risk of having been infected.
Now a new study of the effects of SV40 points to disturbing evidence that
the monkey virus causes a number of human cancers. It concludes that there
is "compelling" evidence linking SV40 to mesothelioma, a once-rare type of
lung cancer whose prevalence is rapidly increasing.
Dr Janet Butel of the Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, and the lead author
of the study, told The Telegraph: "I feel strongly that research is
warranted to determine how common human infections by SV40 may be, and what
factors might predispose individuals to SV40-related tumours." Her study,
published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, also suggested
that the monkey virus may be passing from those given the contaminated
vaccine to their children, spreading the cancer risk still further.
Blood samples analysed by Dr Butel and her colleagues point to the steady
spread of the cancer-causing virus in the human population, with 10 per cent
of those never exposed directly to the contaminated vaccine testing positive
for SV40. Dr Butel said: "I believe SV40 is present in the human population
today and is being spread among individuals by an unknown route."
The Telegraph has learnt that scientists in Britain have joined an
international effort to confirm the findings. According to Prof Gordon
McVie, the director general of the Cancer Research Campaign, researchers
have so far uncovered evidence linking SV40 to a number of cancers,
including brain tumours and bone cancer. He said: "I've a feeling that the
virus might be implicated in more, such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and
The study is also likely to prompt a radical rethink by doctors of what
happened 40 years ago, during the early days of polio vaccination. Until
now, SV40 was regarded as harmless, with no evidence of long-term health
effects emerging in follow-up studies of those vaccinated.
Now it appears that these studies may not have been conducted over a long
enough period. New highly sensitive laboratory tests have disclosed the
presence of SV40 in many different types of human tumour.
The most startling results centre on mesothelioma, until recently linked
primarily to exposure to asbestos. Studies have found that around 70 per
cent of mesothelioma cases test positive for the SV40 virus. Over the past
30 years, the number of mesothelioma cases has risen 10-fold, to about 1,000
a year, and is predicted to reach 4,000 early next century.
Until now, the increase was blamed on the asbestos industry. But the new
findings are leading scientists to suspect that SV40 may account for a
substantial number of mesotheliomas. Dr Butel said: "The consistent
association of SV40 with that tumour is compelling."
Some scientists remain sceptical of the link, however. Robin Weiss, a
professor of viral oncology at University College, London, said that SV40 is
widely used in laboratories and could easily contaminate tumour samples,
fooling the ultra-sensitive tests used to detect the virus. Prof Weiss said:
"Many of the positive results are probably false positives. We've looked at
mesothelioma and did find it in some cases, but then we got bogged down in
whether they were due to contamination or not."
However, Dr Bharat Jasani, a leading expert on SV40 and mesotheliomas at the
University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, said that new reliability
tests rule out contamination as a possible explanation. He said: "There is
absolutely no question of laboratory contamination being to blame. That part
of the story is now over. The time has come where we have to take things
Dr Jasani said he had little doubt that the mass polio vaccination campaigns
were to blame for SV40 entering the human population. He said, however, that
this could bring new hope to hundreds of cancer patients, as it suggested
that many might be treated by a vaccine that attacked SV40. He said: "We
could think about saving more than 2,000 lives a year from mesothelioma -
and that is good news."
A spokesman for the Department of Health said last night that it was aware
that SV40 had contaminated early polio vaccines but insisted that there is
no evidence that the virus caused tumours. She said: "It is also important
to stress that the vaccine currently used is rigorously checked for safety
and efficacy and is free of SV40."
Thursday February 18 3:45 PM ET
Polio Vaccine-Cancer Link Disputed
By PAUL RECER AP Science Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - An American scientist says a London newspaper
misinterpreted her study of a monkey virus in early polio vaccines when the
paper said the virus had been proved ``cancer-causing'' and could be
responsible for hundreds of cancer deaths.
``It is going one step farther than I am prepared to go,'' Dr. Janet S.
Butel, a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine, said of the report in the
London Sunday Telegraph.
``I don't think that the evidence is definitive that (the virus) causes
those (human) tumors,'' Butel said. But she said the indirect evidence is
Butel said studies have shown that the monkey virus is present in some human
tumors and that it can cause cancer in animals. But more research is needed
to nail down the role, if any, the virus may play in causing human cancers,
The Telegraph article said the monkey virus that contaminated pre-1963 polio
vaccinations was ``cancer-causing'' and might be responsible for hundreds of
cancer deaths a year among people inoculated with the vaccine.
The newspaper based its report on Butel's study published last month in the
Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Butel said the story also was ``misleading'' when it blamed contaminated
polio vaccine for the spread of the monkey virus. The virus may have
infected humans from a variety of sources, and it may now be spread by
human-to-human contact, she said. It's not known how the virus is spread.
``There is no evidence that the virus (found in some human tumors) came from
the polio vaccine,'' she said. The monkey virus has been found in the tumors
of people who were not even alive at the time the contaminated polio vaccine
was used, she said.
In her study, Butel reviewed evidence from her research and from others'
research about the spread and disease potential of a monkey virus called
simian virus 40, or SV40. This virus was found to have contaminated a polio
vaccine introduced in 1955. The contamination was only in vaccines used
Butel said in the paper that ``the association of SV40 with human cancers is
currently strong enough to warrant serious concern.'' But she said further
studies are needed to prove whether the virus actually causes cancer in
Butel's conclusions are similar to those expressed by experts attending a
National Institutes of Health conference on SV40 held in 1997. A study by
the National Cancer Institute, published last month in the Journal of the
American Medical Association, concluded there has been no increase in a type
of cancer that has been found in animals exposed to SV40.