Recently, a claim has surfaced, propagated by Dr. Harvey Risch, suggesting a correlation between COVID-19 vaccinations and the emergence of unprecedented forms of cancer, termed by him as "turbo cancer" (Figure 1).
This article aims to dissect this claim, emphasizing scientific insights and expert opinions to present a coherent and factual perspective.
Dr. Harvey Risch, a distinguished professor emeritus of epidemiology, has asserted that post-COVID-19 vaccination, there has been a surge in unusual cancer occurrences. He mentions instances of young individuals, devoid of family cancer histories, being diagnosed with cancers typically associated with long latency and older age. However, it is pivotal to note that these assertions lack substantial empirical evidence and scientific backing.
The term "turbo cancer," coined by Dr. Risch, is not recognized in the medical or scientific communities. A meticulous search in the National Library of Medicine yields no results for this term, highlighting its absence in biomedical literature.
Dr. David Gorski, a renowned surgical oncologist, has categorically dismissed the concept of "turbo cancer," emphasizing the lack of credible evidence and the reliance on anecdotes and misinterpretations of epidemiology.
"Over the last several months, antivaxxers have been claiming that COVID-19 vaccines cause 'turbo cancer', cancers (or cancer recurrences) of a particularly aggressive and fast-growing variety diagnosed in younger and younger patients," Gorski said. "'Turbo cancer' is not a thing, and the evidence cited is as weak as any antivax 'evidence', including anecdotes and misinterpretation of epidemiology."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have unequivocally stated that there is no credible evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines induce cancer.
The CDC underscores that the vaccines have been subjected to rigorous safety monitoring, and after administering over 676 million doses, no association between vaccination and increased cancer risk has been established. The FDA echoes these sentiments, emphasizing the overwhelming benefits of vaccination in mitigating the risks of death and serious illness due to COVID-19.
The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has also debunked the myth that mRNA vaccines can alter DNA and cause cancer. The center clarifies that mRNA is distinct from DNA and cannot interact with or alter the genetic code.
The mRNA vaccines work by using a fragment of the coronavirus' genetic code to instruct the immune system to produce a protein that will trigger an immune response if infected. The mRNA does not enter the nucleus of the cell, where the DNA resides, negating the possibility of genetic alteration or cancer induction.
In conclusion, the propagation of unfounded claims can have detrimental effects on public health and vaccine uptake. The consensus among the scientific community is clear: there is no substantiated evidence to support the claim that COVID-19 vaccines are associated with an increased risk of cancer.