Since the MMR is made in chicken eggs, I wonder if this childhood leukemia is connected to the avian leukemia chickens get. It would be horrific to find out a stray virus in the egg mixture of the vaccine is the culprit behind childhood leukemia.
Childhood leukaemia on the rise
Monday September 6, 2004
More and more children are being diagnosed with leukaemia each year, experts have warned today. Researchers say the trend has been disguised by falling death rates from the disease. Around 500 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with leukaemia in Britain each year, with about 100 children dying. But experts said that while better treatments had led to more surviving the disease in the last half a century, the number of cases emerging had been rising year on year. Researchers are trying to find out whether genetic, environmental, diet or other factors are behind the rising leukaemia rates. These and other issues were being discussed at the First International Scientific Conference on Childhood Leukaemia, taking place in London this week.
Michel Coleman, professor of epidemiology and vital statistics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "The marked disparity between incidence and mortality trends crystallises the problem posed by childhood leukaemia from a public health standpoint. "We have become steadily better at treating it - at least in the sense of preventing children dying from it - but we have made little or no progress in preventing it. Rational approaches to prevention are difficult to formulate when so little is known about the cause."
In the late 1960s the mortality rate for leukaemia among children up to 14 was around 26 deaths per million of the population in England and Wales. This dropped to around 10 per million by the late 1990s. But the incidence rate has increased from about 40 cases per million in the 1960s to 45 per million in the late 1990s. Leukaemia accounts for about a third of all cancers in children and the number of new cases being diagnosed annually has been rising for at least 40 years, particularly in children under the age of five. But Prof Coleman said mortality trends between 1911 and the 1950s and incidence and survival data available since the 1960s showed that the rise in cases had been going on much longer.
"Suggestions that part of the increase has been due to more children surviving infancy to reach the peak age of leukaemia incidence - one to four years - and to improved registration and diagnosis of the disease, may be partly true, but they cannot plausibly explain the overall pattern of data now at our disposal," he said. This week's conference has been organised by the charity Children with Leukaemia, prompted by the upward trend in cases, inability to pin down the cause and concerns over the long-term effect of cancer treatments had prompted it to organise the conference.
Experts from across Europe, America, Asia and Australia will discuss issues such as radiation, smoking, viruses and air pollution. They will also look at areas which have received less attention, such as the impact of diet in early childhood, light pollution, damaging materials affecting the foetus
and medicines in pregnancy. The conference chairman, Prof Denis Henshaw, said: "If the increased risk facing today's children is at least partly caused by modern lifestyle factors, as is suggested by the increasing incidence, then it may be possible to take some preventive measures. But first we need to determine what these factors are."