Ovarian cancer is among the deadliest. It’s long been known that having the mumps provides protection against it. Now, we have a study showing how the mumps vaccine could be leading to women’s deaths from ovarian cancer.
Photo from Morgue File (morguefile.com)
by Heidi Stevenson
Mumps was never a terrifying disease. The best way for an adult to avoid sterility from getting mumps was by having had the mumps as a child. Now, though, mumps vaccinations are routine—and ovarian cancer rates are increasing.
Now, I can hear the naysayers out there screaming, “But that doesn’t prove causality!” That’s certainly true—but I’m not going to make the claim that the mumps vaccine causes ovarian cancer. What the mumps vaccine does is interfere with the natural preventive function of the mumps disease to prevent cancer, a point that has now been documented in science.
It has long been suspected that there’s a connection between having the mumps vaccination and developing ovarian cancer. A new study published in Cancer Causes and Control1 starts with the statement:
Epidemiologic studies found childhood mumps might protect against ovarian cancer. To explain this association, we investigated whether mumps might engender immunity to ovarian cancer through antibodies against the cancer-associated antigen MUC1 abnormally expressed in the inflamed parotid gland.
In other words, it’s well accepted that having had mumps provides women with protection against developing ovarian cancer. This is not absolute protection, but the fact is that it’s long been known through anecdotal evidence to be true.
Study Identifies Ovarian Cancer Protective Factor
This study investigated the glycoprotein MUC1, a constituent of humble mucus, which happens to be one of the most significant parts of the immune system. Here is the reasoning that led to this study:
- Strong inflammatory events associated with tubal ligation and mastitis protect against ovarian cancer. (The same researchers had demonstrated this in earlier study.)
- Tissues from tubal ligations and mastitis normally express MUC1.
- Strong inflammatory events of tubal ligation and mastitis cause overexpression of MUC1.
- Overexpression of MUC1—resulting in anti-MUC1 antibodies—might be a reason that tubal ligations and mastitis help protect against ovarian cancer.
- If overexpression of MUC1 also exists in mumps, then it must be the reason that mumps provides protection against ovarian cancer.
They took samples of sera (liquid from blood samples) from 161 people who’d had mumps and 194 who had not. All sample testing was done blinded. That is, the analyses of blood tests were done by people who did not know whether the samples had been pulled from people with or without mumps.
The Researchers’ Conclusions
The study found that people with active mumps and people who’ve recently had mumps have a significantly higher level of anti-MUC1 antibodies than those who don’t have, or haven’t recently had, mumps. They concluded:
Clearly, mumps vaccination only creates anti-viral antibodies and would not lead to anti-MUC1 antibodies, which we show here require an active parotitis. If it is true that symptomatic mumps protected against ovarian cancer through an immune reaction, a logical consequence is that we might expect an increased incidence of ovarian cancer as symptomatic mumps parotitis infections have decreased through vaccination.
In other words, the researchers found that having the mumps results in antibodies to MUC1 and that these antibodies help protect against ovarian cancer. They also state that it is simply logical that vaccination against mumps would not protect against ovarian cancer, because the vaccination does not create anti-MUC1 antibodies.
The researchers use remarkably strong language in their conclusion about the effects of the mumps vaccine and relatively benign nature of the disease itself:
Prior to vaccination, mumps was generally a mild illness but could have serious sequelae including orchitis and sterility, meningitis and deafness, and pancreatitis. Nevertheless, our study suggests there could also have been unanticipated long-term anticancer benefits of a mumps infection, such as we have described in this paper.
We can summarize the results like this:
- Mumps is a mild illness.
- Mumps rarely produces lasting harm.
- Mumps provides long-term anti-cancer benefit.
We know that many cancers have been increasing. How much of that increase, besides ovarian cancer, could be due to the mumps vaccine?
Sadly, though, the researchers seemed to miss the real issue in the rest of their conclusion:
Understanding the scope of and basis for the potential benefits of childhood infections may allow immunologists to duplicate the beneficial effects at the same time that vaccination provides the means for avoiding a natural infection and its possible immediate consequences. Further study of individuals going through a mumps infection, especially with a focus on mucin immunity, may provide clues to mechanisms for duplicating the beneficial effects of mumps parotitis suggested by this study.
Instead of even considering that the mumps vaccine may be doing more harm than good, the authors take the double-down approach. They suggest trying to artificially provide the same benefit that the mumps does naturally. Instead of considering that yet another “unforeseeable” adverse effect might occur—probably will occur—they suggest following the same old approach of trying to circumvent nature.
Instead of questioning whether the mumps vaccination itself is a mistake, they suggest trying to circumvent the one flaw that they’ve figured out. They don’t consider that, perhaps, it’s just one of many flaws. They don’t consider whether they might be headed down the wrong path, in spite of acknowledging that the vaccine they’ve just shown could be doing more harm than good, they don’t question the vaccine itself.
Will the time ever come when they’ll step back and realize that what they’re discovering isn’t an excuse to continue down the same benighted path, but is information showing that it’s time to take a step back and question whether their basic assumptions might be wrong?
- Mumps and ovarian cancer: modern interpretation of an historic association
- Ovarian cancer incidence statistics
- Possible role of mumps virus in the etiology of ovarian cancer.