Vaccinations to protect youngsters from hepatitis B and polio also might provide another benefit: a reduced risk of childhood cancer.
That was the conclusion of a study published in The Journal of Pediatrics that evaluated health statistics from Texas. It found that in areas with the highest percentages of children vaccinated for hepatitis B, rates of childhood cancer were about 20 percent lower than in parts of the state where the vaccinations were less common.
What’s more, in areas with high use both of polio vaccine and a vaccine series that included hepatitis B and polio, there was a 30 percent to 40 reduction in the risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia — a leukemia most common in childhood.
As Reuters reports, however, the link between the vaccinations and cancer prevention remains speculative. Michael Scheurer, an epidemiologist at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and one of the study’s authors, warned that it’s not a situation of “get your kids vaccinated and they won’t get cancer.” Previous studies have provided mixed results, although there is a theory that vaccinations can prevent infections that sometimes raise a child’s risk of cancer.
The new study evaluated data from 2,800 cases of cancer diagnosed from 1995 to 2006 among children born in Texas.