BCG Vaccination Can Reduce the Probability of Lung Cancer

Release Date: 04-Oct-2019

According to the study published in JAMA Network Online, a Common vaccine of tuberculosis known as BCG vaccine can decrease the risk of lung cancer if administered during early childhood. The study was published on 25 September 2019. The study was led by researchers at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) along with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the University of Pittsburgh, Johns Hopkins University, and Cornell University.


The title of the study was “Association of Bacille Calmette-Guerin Vaccination in Childhood with Subsequent Cancer”. The research conducted a retrospective study and reviewed the data from 1935 through 1998. The data was collected from almost 3,000 American Indian and Alaska Native children followed through adulthood. The patients chosen for the study was belonging to the population in which cancer is the principal cause of premature death, and lung cancer is among the leading causes of death for both men and women combined.


During the study, the children with no previous TB infection had been vaccinated with a common, low-cost TB vaccine, Bacille Calmette Guerin, or BCG. The vaccination was performed for the first time at the age of 8 years on average. Among the total participants, 1,540 received the BCG vaccine, while 1,423 received a placebo. During a 60-year follow-up, there were only 325 reported cases of malignancies, such as leukemia, lymphoma, lung cancer, and breast cancer.


After the period of study, it was observed that the rates were significantly lower in those who received the BCG vaccine as compared to those who received the placebo. The researchers also found there were higher rates of cancer among women, overall, but higher rates of lung cancer among men compared to women. According to Dr. Naomi Aronson, director of USU's Infectious Diseases Division, men who received the BCG vaccine as a child had significantly lower rates of lung cancer.

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