Can measles make you healthier and fight cancer?

Dan Wilson

Senior Member.
In 2018, we witnessed outbreaks and increased reports of measles cases across the United States. These outbreaks are driven by two causes that are not mutually exclusive 1) Travelers returning from areas where measles is common or 2) Communities with lower vaccination rates. As a result, communities where vaccination among children are lower than surrounding areas face blame. https://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html#outbreaks
2018: The U.S. experienced 17 outbreaks in 2018, including three outbreaks in New York State, New York City, and New Jersey, respectively. Cases in those states occurred primarily among unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish communities. These outbreaks were associated with travelers who brought measles back from Israel, where a large outbreak is occurring.
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In the wake of these outbreaks and media attention, many individuals choosing not to vaccinate their children against diseases like measles have stood their ground. In defense of this position, some have claimed that natural immunity to measles is a good thing that leads to an overall better immune system. Recently, Darla Shine, wife of the current White House deputy chief of staff for communications, gained media attention for taking this stance in a series of tweets. https://www.thedailybeast.com/darla...fficial-goes-on-pro-measles-anti-vaccine-rant
“The entire Baby Boom population alive today had the #Measles as kids,” she bizarrely added. “Bring back our #ChildhoodDiseases they keep you healthy & fight cancer.”
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Shine goes on to cite a story where a young girl's multiple myeloma went into remission thanks to measles. Here, we will examine Shine's two claims about measles improving health and fighting cancer.

Does measles make you healthy? No.
Being infected with measles is dangerous. Not only can it result in death, measles can also cause complications that leave permanent damage. https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/complications.html

  • As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children.
  • About one child out of every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can lead to convulsions and can leave the child deaf or with intellectual disability.
  • For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.
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But what if you survive measles complication free? Is your immune system stronger? The answer turns out to be the exact opposite. In every country, measles vaccines are associated with decrease risk of death from all disease (see attached). A team of scientists from four different institutions investigated this correlation and found that being infected with measles actually creates a sort of "immune amnesia" where the patient is more likely to be infected and die of other infectious disease over the next 2 to 3 years. http://science.sciencemag.org/conte...XTNJz8cryXD8XpGAhhmDUGfqPJyv2DIFdTF4Uxcxu7lPI
Our results show that when measles was common, MV [measles virus] infections could have been implicated in as many as half of all childhood deaths from infectious disease, thus accounting for nearly all of the interannual fluctuations in childhood infectious disease deaths. The reduction of MV infections was the main factor in reducing overall childhood infectious disease mortality after the introduction of vaccination.
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In other words, MV infection replaced the previous memory cell repertoire with MV-specific lymphocytes, resulting in “immune amnesia” (17) to nonmeasles pathogens.
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They also did performed their same studies on pertussis and found this effect to be specific for measles. Science does not support the idea that natural measles infection holds any benefit.

Can natural measles infections fight cancer? Not really.
Doctors have long noticed that a variety of viral infections can cause temporary improvements in cancer patients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5086626/
In 1904, Dock [1] described two cases of chronic leukaemia that appeared to improve whilst the individual was infected by influenza; in one patient lymphadenopathy transiently reduced in size and in the other case the leucocyte count reportedly fell when infected, but both later relapsed.
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The story that Shine cited in her tweets, however, has a happier ending. https://returntonow.net/2019/02/09/...Wz2H-wu3yK7XLAZzpp_OSA2Kxz_K_em9h9osVSPpvZ1r0
She had an advanced case of multiple myeloma, a deadly cancer of the blood spread throughout her body and bone marrow, when researchers offered her a last-ditch resort — a massive dose of the measles. Within 5 minutes, she got a splitting headache and a fever of 105, followed by vomiting and shaking. Within 36 hours, a tumor the size of a golf ball on her forehead had disappeared, and within two weeks there was no cancer detectable in her body.
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But there are a few big problems with using stories like this to say that natural measles infections should come back. A very important detail in the story that Shine pointed to is that the measles virus being used for treatment was not a natural one.
The virus strain was engineered and weakened in a lab, and then given in a dose strong enough to vaccinate 10 million people.
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In other words, the virus used to cure this patient's cancer is the same that would be used in a vaccine. So, it could be argued that a heavy dose of measles vaccine actually has the potential to treat certain cancers. Virotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that is currently being heavily studied and a weakened, non-infectious form of virus is used in every case. That is because a real, natural infection holds too much risk and no sensible doctor would ever recommend one.

Measles is dangerous, deadly, and leaves lasting negative effects on patients. Vaccinating against measles is one of the best things you can do for your health.
 

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Sagittarius

Member
I'm a bit puzzled by your section on the life-long effects of measles. I have to say, it's news to me. If you grew up in the 50s and 60s, as I did, before the vaccination existed, you caught measles, as I did, along with my brother, my relatives, my schoolmates, etc. I'm now in my mid-sixties, and have been very healthy throughout my life, as have all my relatives. Are you sure that claim is accurate?
 

Landru

Moderator
Staff member
I'm a bit puzzled by your section on the life-long effects of measles. I have to say, it's news to me. If you grew up in the 50s and 60s, as I did, before the vaccination existed, you caught measles, as I did, along with my brother, my relatives, my schoolmates, etc. I'm now in my mid-sixties, and have been very healthy throughout my life, as have all my relatives. Are you sure that claim is accurate?
The poster supplied evidence. Do you have contrary evidence?
 

Dan Wilson

Senior Member.
I'm a bit puzzled by your section on the life-long effects of measles.
The effects are not life-long, sorry if that was unclear. The evidence suggests that measles infection negatively effects immune memory and it takes time to rebuild this memory. Researchers have concluded that, following measles infection, you are more likely to die from other infectious disease within the next 2-3 years.
 

Sagittarius

Member
The effects are not life-long, sorry if that was unclear. The evidence suggests that measles infection negatively effects immune memory and it takes time to rebuild this memory. Researchers have concluded that, following measles infection, you are more likely to die from other infectious disease within the next 2-3 years.

Thanks for clarifying.
 
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