Debunking the myth that measles is benign and even beneficial

15-May-2019 12:05 PM EDT

Newswise

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Fact Check By: Craig Jones, Newswise

Truthfulness: False

Claim:

At a rally in upstate New York, Rabbi Hillel Handler said if you catch “measles, mumps and chickenpox, your chances of getting cancer, heart disease, and strokes goes down 60 percent.”

Claim Publisher and Date: Rabbi Hillel Handler on 2019-05-13

On May 13, 2019, at an anti-vaccination symposium in Rockland County, New York, Orthodox Jewish families gathered, where they heard anti-vaccine crusaders claim that inoculations are a health risk, and that measles can help produce growth spurts and prevent everything from cancer to heart disease. 

Orthodox community leader Rabbi Hillel Handler told the crowd that according to “medical research,” if you catch “measles, mumps and chickenpox, your chances of getting cancer, heart disease, and strokes goes down 60 percent.”

There is no evidence that measles and infectious diseases can lower your chances of getting cancer. Linking childhood illnesses such as measles, chicken pox, and mumps to cancer prevention has some history, but has not been proven in a clinical setting, and is therefore unfounded. 

"The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a perfect example of the inaccuracy of this notion.  This virus is now known to be the cause of many cancers, including cervical cancer, throat cancers, and sinus cancers.  Having the illness (and HPV infection) will predispose you to have one of these cancers. Receiving the HPV vaccine will help prevent these cancers from forming."

-Forbes, Feb 14, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ninashapiro/2019/02/14/is-there-any-benefit-of-natural-immunity-when-it-comes-to-infections-like-measles/#6fd4757d72a0

In 2014, The Mayo Clinic published a report about a patient with multiple myeloma who went into remission after receiving an experimental therapy using a measles-derived virus. However, this is not the same as a "naturally occuring" measles infection.They were using a modified virus that is weakened, similarly, in fact, to a measles vaccine.

More information here: https://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2014/05/16/could-measles-cure-cancer-uh-not-exactly/

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