ATLANTA — The US Institute of Medicine (IOM) is looking into whether polio vaccines contaminated with the simian virus SV40 — thought to inactivate p53 and Rb — and given 40 years ago have caused a spike in the incidence of several cancers.

As much as two-thirds of the oral Sabin and injected Salk polio vaccine supply given from 1955 to 1963 in the US, Australia, Canada, Germany and other countries was contaminated with SV40, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. Since then, the incidence of certain rare cancers such as the brain cancer ependymoma has increased 25%; osteosarcomas are up 23%; and the incidence of mesothelioma, a lung cancer strongly linked to asbestos exposure, has soared 90%. The incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, not a rare cancer, has increased by 82% since 1973. A total of 56,200 new cases and 24,000 deaths from non-Hodgkin lymphoma...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?