Facebook post linking Covid-19 vaccines with report about cancer in the under-50s is misleading

28 October 2022
What was claimed

Covid-19 vaccines cause cancer.

Our verdict

There’s no evidence this is true, and the articles pictured don’t suggest this is the case.

A post on Facebook features a screenshot of an article saying there’s no evidence the Covid-19 vaccines cause cancer, next to one of a CNN headline warning of a possible  cancer “epidemic” in people under 50. The image highlights that the articles were written just under a year apart.  

The post’s caption suggests that the Covid-19 vaccines are causing cancer in the under-50s, saying: “They took the shot in fear of a fake virus, not realizing that the other diseases it will cause” [sic].

There is no evidence that the Covid-19 vaccines cause cancer, and the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is not “fake”.

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No evidence Covid-19 vaccines cause cancer

There is no evidence that the Covid-19 vaccines cause cancer in people of any age. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) continually monitors the safety of all vaccines, including by reviewing reports of suspected side effects. 

Anyone who suspects a vaccine side effect can report it to the MHRA’s Yellow Card scheme and these reports are evaluated “together with additional sources of evidence, by a team of safety experts to identify any new safety issues or side effects”.

The MHRA also uses “other epidemiology studies including analysis of data on national vaccine usage, anonymised GP-based electronic healthcare records and other healthcare data to proactively monitor safety”.

And this monitoring has not found any link between the vaccines and cancer. 

We have written twice before about false US military data which some claimed showed incidences of cancer had increased since the start of the vaccine roll-out. 

However, the data used to support this was withdrawn because the correct 2021 figures on cancer cases were compared to an inaccurate five-year average, which represented only a small fraction of actual diagnoses and so gave the false impression of a significant increase in 2021.

What are the pictured articles about?

The November 2021 Reuters article shown in the Facebook post fact checks claims about a woman who had tweeted she was worried about getting the Covid-19 vaccine, and then a few weeks later tweeted that she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. The article quoted the woman, who asked not to be named, as saying there was no connection between her vaccination and her cancer diagnosis.

A spokesperson from the Vaccine Knowledge Project at Oxford University told Reuters: “In order to be detectable at the time of diagnosis, most cancers have already been in existence for months – eg, breast cancer via a mammogram or prostate cancer via a PSA screening test… So, in the case in this video [that made the claims], it is impossible for her cancer to have been ‘caused’ by the vaccine.”

Meanwhile the October 2022 CNN article headlined “A global epidemic of cancer among people younger than 50 could be emerging” reports the findings of a scientific review of “early onset cancer”, which is defined as the disease in people under 50. 

The paper says several types of early onset cancer have increased in several countries, which it partly puts down to increased use of screening programmes but also a “genuine increase in the incidence of early-onset forms of several cancer types”.

The study doesn’t mention Covid-19 or vaccines, and instead says more research is needed into exactly what risk factors may be causing the increase. 

It also says the incidence of various cancers in the under 50s has been rising “since the 1990s” and the majority of the studies included in the review predate the pandemic entirely.  

The virus causing Covid-19 is not ‘fake’

The caption of the post also says “they took the shot in fear of a fake virus”.

The virus that causes Covid-19 does exist, as we have written many times before

The virus itself has been isolated and its entire genetic make-up determined by sequencing its genome. Lateral flow and PCR tests show us that people have been and continue to be infected with it, and sadly, there have been 206,468 deaths in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate as one of the causes, at the time of writing.

Image courtesy of Accuray

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