98 Million Americans Were Given Cancer Through Polio Shots-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has admitted that 98 million Americans were given cancer through polio shots contaminated with SV40, a cancer-causing virus found in monkeys.

The Truth:

Claims that 98 million Americans were given cancer through polio shots contaminated with SV40 from 1955 to 1963 are false.

Questions about links between SV40 and cancer, and theories that millions of Americans were potentially exposed to SV40 through contaminated polio shots, have been circulating for years. Those rumors came to a head in a 2013 video posted at a YouTube channel operated by an Illinois-based team of paranormal investigators dubbed “Extremum Spiritum Paranormal.” The claim resurfaced in March 2017 with various posts on blog sites that espouse conspiracy theories about health news, world events, vaccines, and geology, just to name a few topics.

First and foremost, the claim that 98 million Americans were given cancer through polio shots contaminated with SV40 from 1955 to 1963 are proven false by the very CDC information that these reports cite. The CDC reports that a total of 98 million people were given vaccines during that period — and that approximately 10-30 million Americans could have received a vaccine tainted with simian virus 40 (SV40). So, the number of people potentially impacted is far fewer than the 98 million total widely reported.

Second, links between cancer and SV40 don’t appear to be supported by scientific research, the CDC reports:

Some of the polio vaccine administered from 1955 to 1963 was contaminated with a virus called simian virus 40 (SV40). The virus came from the monkey kidney cells used to produce the vaccines.  Once the contamination was discovered in the Salk inactivated polio vaccine in use at that time, the U.S. government established requirements for vaccine testing to verify that all new batches of the polio vaccine were free of SV40. Because of research done with SV40 in animal models, there was some concern that the virus could cause cancer. However, evidence suggests that SV40 has not caused cancer in humans.

Despite initial fears that SV40 causes cancer in humans, a 2002 study cast doubt on those fears without disproving them completely. The New York Times reported in 2002 that SV40 had been found in the tumor cells taken from people who had four types of cancers that were found to develop in rodents — but it was not clear whether the virus caused those tumors:

SV40 can cause cancer in rodents and in cultured human cells. It has been found in some tumors taken from cancer patients.

But finding the virus in a tumor does not prove that it caused the tumor. Most large population studies have not found a higher cancer risk in people exposed to the vaccine. There is no blood test that can tell whether a person is infected with SV40, and there are no special steps to take to prevent the rare cancers being studied, researchers said.

The report released yesterday was prepared by a 14-member committee on vaccine safety convened by the Institute of Medicine, which advises the government on public health. The report is the fifth in a series of eight that the government commissioned on vaccination. Fear of vaccine side effects has led some parents to shun vaccination, and outbreaks of diseases like whooping cough and measles have resulted, the report said.

After analyzing more than 100 studies, the committee said that most evidence argued against a connection between the polio vaccine and cancers, but that those weaknesses in the studies made it impossible to dismiss the potential link.

 A review of links between SV40 and cancers in humans that was published in 2007 offered a more definitive analysis: “In summary, the most recent evidence does not support the notion that SV40 contributed to the development of human cancers.”

In the end, claims that 98 million Americans were given cancer through polio shots are false, and scientific evidence doesn’t appear to support links between human cancer and SV40 that contaminated vaccines from 1955 to 1963. For those reasons, we’re calling this rumor “fiction.”

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Collected on: 04/11/2017