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Vaccines and cancer.

There's no doubt that vaccines protect children from the "routine" childhood diseases. Vaccines cause few side effects, mostly mild and transitory, and any risks they may have are greatly outweighed by the protection they offer. A recent study from Texas may add a new reason to vaccinate your child: a decreased risk for childhood cancer.

The Texas Cancer Registry identified 2,800 Texas children diagnosed with cancer between 1995 and 2006. All were born in Texas and diagnosed with cancer between two and seventeen years of age; 11,200 control subjects were matched for age and sex.

Lead researcher Melissa A. Pagaoa, MPH and her colleagues found that children born in counties with higher rates of hepatitis B vaccination were less likely to develop any cancer than children in counties with lower vaccination rates. They also found a child's odds of being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) were less in counties with higher vaccination rates of inactive polio vaccine and Hemophilus influenzae vaccine.

This is an interesting study that indicates the need for more research, but the researchers think some routine childhood vaccines may be protective against at least one childhood cancer, ALL. Although associations were found between vaccination rates and incidence of childhood cancers, the mechanism explaining this finding is still lacking. It's important to remember that "correlation doesn't necessary mean causation" and some other factor may be found that leads to both the higher vaccination rates and the lower cancer incidence.

However, this study does add to the reasons it's important to vaccinate your child.

The Journal of Pediatrics, 01/11

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Publication:Pediatrics for Parents
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2011
Words:264
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