Does contracting measles prevent cancer?

Sunday, May 30, 2021
By Jacob Alabab-Moser

Studies suggest that the measles virus, when engineered in a lab, shows promise as a cancer drug. But no evidence suggests that naturally contracted measles prevents cancer, and experts warn against virotherapy research influencing attitudes towards measles, mumps and rubella vaccines.

A study using mice found that exposure to engineered measles regressed ovarian tumor cells by 80%. Over 150 clinical trials of cancer patients who were administered engineered measles showed promising results for various cancers.

However, experts studying the measles virus as a potential cancer therapy say their research is being incorrectly cited as part of anti-vaccination campaigns. They note that:

  • Measles killed 110,000 people globally in 2017. They unequivocally advise vaccination against MMR.
  • Evidence of measles as a cancer therapy shows the engineered virus is most effective in patients who have received the MMR vaccine.
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