Can Childhood Mumps Virus Prevent Ovarian Cancer?

Holy Hormones Journal: Say what? After all thee years of fighting, conquering, medicating and vaccinating against viral attacks on our body mumps virus– is it possible that viruses may not be the bad guys after all? In fact, viruses in our body may play an integral role in our health? There are many who seem to think so.  Author, Lewis Thomas is one player. In the 1970’s he wrote the national award winning book, The Lives of a Cell, Notes of a Biology Watcher.

I have mentioned Thomas’ work before in this blog – but here is another little gem of his from his book:

The viruses, instead of being single-minded agents of disease and death, now begin to look more like mobile genes. Evolution is still an infinitely long and tedious biologic game, with only the winners staying at the table, but the rules are beginning to look more flexible. We live in a dancing matrix of viruses; they dart, rather like bees, from organism to organism, from plant to insect to mammal to me and back again, and into the sea, tugging along pieces of this genome, strings of genes from that transplanting grafts of DNA, passing around heredity as though at a great party. They may be a mechanism for keeping new,mutant kinds of DNA in the widest circulation among us. If this is true, the odd virus disease, on which we must focus so much of our attention in medicine, may be looked on as an accident, something dropped.

Perhaps if we lived in a world where we recognized that we are all part of the great dance of the universe – that united we stand – and divided we fall – really applies not only to our countries but to our bodies natural connection to all of the microorganisms that make up this planet Earth.

Many have related the increase in ovarian cancer since the 1970’s to the use of talcum powder – but what if there is another reason altogether? That we have eliminated the very viral mechanism that the body needs to protect itself against ovarian cancer? The MMR vaccine, was developed in 1967, by Dr. Maurice Hillerman.

History of the Vaccine

The current “Jeryl Lynn” strain of the mumps vaccine was developed by Dr. Maurice Hillman from the mumps virus that infected his 5-year-old daughter (whose name was Jeryl Lynn). This vaccine has been widely used worldwide (300 million doses given) since it was approved by the FDA in 1967.

Today, mumps vaccine is generally given in combination with mumps and rubella vaccines (MMR) or MMR combined with varicella (MMRV).Originally, just one dose of the MMR vaccine was recommended. In 1989, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, changed the recommendation to two doses. This change and a higher vaccination rate have nearly eliminated these three diseases in the United States. Continued immunization of children is needed to prevent the spread of these infections imported from other countries.

Now read this post about the HPV Vaccine: HPV Vaccine Maker Busts Myth that HPV Kills, with another great reference to Lewis Thomas’ work. And then read about another mother’s story about what happened to her children post-Gardasil vaccination.

BTW – Dr. Hilleman developed many of his vaccines while working at Merck & Co., the same folks that brought us Gardasil.

In 1957, Hilleman joined Merck & Co. (Whitehouse Station, New Jersey), as head of its new virus and cell biology research department in West Point, Pennsylvania. It was while with Merck that Hilleman developed most of the forty experimental and licensed animal and human vaccines with which he is credited, working both at the laboratory bench as well as providing scientific leadership. – Wikipedia


Mumps and ovarian cancer: modern interpretation of an historic association
NIH Public Access

Cancer Causes Control. Author manuscript; available in PMC Aug 1, 2011.
Published in final edited form as:
Cancer Causes Control. Aug 2010; 21(8): 1193–1201.
Published online Jun 18, 2010. doi: 10.1007/s10552-010-9546-1


Epidemiologic studies found childhood mumps might protect against ovarian cancer. To explain this association, we investigated whether mumps might engender immunity to ovarian cancer through antibodies against the cancer-associated antigen MUC1 abnormally expressed in the inflamed parotid gland.

Through various health agencies, we obtained sera from 161 cases with mumps parotitis. Sera were obtained from 194 healthy controls. We used an ELISA to measure anti-MUC1 antibodies and electro-chemiluminescence assays to measure MUC1 and CA 125. Log-transformed measurements were analyzed by t-tests, generalized linear models, and Pearson or Spearman correlations. We also conducted a meta-analysis of all published studies regarding mumps and ovarian cancer.

Adjusting for assay batch, age, and sex, the level of anti-MUC1 antibodies was significantly higher in mumps cases compared to controls (p = 0.002). Free circulating levels of CA 125, but not MUC1, were also higher in cases (p = 0.02). From the meta-analysis, the pooled odds ratio estimate (and 95% CI) for the mumps and ovarian cancer association was 0.81 (0.68–0.96) (p = 0.01).

Mumps parotitis may lead to expression and immune recognition of a tumor-associated form of MUC1 and create effective immune surveillance of ovarian cancer cells that express this form of MUC1.

Read full study…


Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.