Review finds 'no evidence' linking ME with cancer jab
There is no evidence that a jab used to protect girls against cervical cancer causes chronic fatigue syndrome, a regulator has said.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) found no link between Cervarix - which is no longer used in schools - and the syndrome, also known as ME.
Cervarix, which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), protects against two strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes most cases of cervical cancer.
Cervarix was given to more than two million young women aged 12 to 18 in the UK as part of the government’s HPV vaccination programme between September 2008 and September 2012.
It was then replaced by Gardasil, supplied by Sanofi Pasteur MSD, which protects against genital warts caused by HPV types 16 and 18 but also against HPV types 6 and 11.
MHRA scientists carried out a review of Cervarix’s safety following reports that some women were suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome after vaccination.
They analysed patient record data to compare the frequency of fatigue syndromes in young women before and after the start of the vaccination programme and the risk following vaccination compared to other time periods.
The study, published in the journal Vaccine, found no evidence of an increased risk of chronic fatigue syndrome in women having the jab.
Dr Philip Bryan of the MHRA, who co-authored the study, said: “We have one of the best HPV vaccination programmes in the world that protects women from cervical cancer.
“Our study found no evidence to implicate Cervarix vaccine in development of chronic fatigue syndrome, and we hope that our findings give further reassurance about the safety of the HPV vaccine.”
Robert Music, chief executive of the charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “Like all vaccines, there are possible side effects to take into consideration and it’s important that those eligible and their guardians make themselves aware of these.
“But these research findings by the MHRA are very positive and we encourage all those who are eligible to take up the vaccine.
“Cervical cancer is a largely preventable disease thanks in part to the HPV vaccination, which prevents 70% of cervical cancers.
“Indeed, researchers have said that an 80% uptake year on year could see a two thirds reduction in cervical cancer incidence in women under 30 by 2025.”
There were around 2,900 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in the UK in 2010 - around eight women every day.
Some 940 women died from cervical cancer in 2010.
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