The polio vaccine used in the late 1950s and early 1960s was contaminated with a monkey virus called simian virus 40 (SV40) present in monkey kidney cells used to grow the vaccine. Recently, investigators found SV40 DNA in biopsy specimens obtained from patients with cancers such as mesothelioma (lung), osteosarcoma (bone) and non-Hodgkins lymphoma (lymph nodes). However, several facts should be noted:
Taken together, these findings do not support the hypothesis that SV40 virus contained in polio vaccines administered before 1963 cause cancers. In addition, available evidence suggests that SV40 virus is likely be transmitted to people by a mechanism other than vaccines.
Ferber D. Monkey virus links to cancer grow stronger. Science 2002;296:1012-1015.
Reviewed by: Paul A. Offit, MD
Date: April 2013
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