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Vaccine. 2009 Nov 16;27(49):6950-8. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.08.103. Epub 2009 Sep 9.

Risk of lymphoma and leukaemia after bacille Calmette-Guérin and smallpox vaccination: a Danish case-cohort study.

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Institute of Preventive Medicine, Copenhagen University Hospital, Centre for Health and Society, Øster Søgade 18, 1st Floor, DK-1357 Copenhagen K, Denmark.


Vaccines may have non-specific effects as suggested mainly in mortality studies from low-income countries. The objective was to examine the effects of BCG and smallpox vaccinations on subsequent risk of lymphoma and leukaemia in a Danish population experiencing rapid out-phasing of these vaccines. In a background cohort (N=47,622) from the Copenhagen School Health Records Register, cases of leukaemia (N=20) and lymphoma (N=51) were identified through the Danish Cancer Registry. The vaccination status of the cases was compared with the vaccination status of a 5% random sample (N=2073) of the background cohort and analysed in a case-cohort design. BCG vaccination reduced the risk of lymphomas (HR=0.49 (95% CI: 0.26-0.93)), whereas smallpox vaccination did not (HR=1.32 (0.56-3.08)). With the small number of leukaemia cases, the analysis of leukaemia had limited power (BCG vaccination HR=0.81 (0.31-2.16); smallpox vaccination HR=1.32 (0.49-3.53)). The present study with very reliable vaccine history information indicates a beneficial effect of BCG vaccination on the risk of lymphomas.

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