I was listening to a self-educated, self-styled health expert who was talking on the radio yesterday. He said something about some vitamin therapy for type 1 diabetes, and then he said something that shocked and upset me. He mentioned what he believes is the cause of type 1 diabetes. I expected him to say “cow’s milk.” There’s plenty of evidence to support the role of cow’s milk in causing type 1 diabetes. If more parents knew about the link between cow’s milk and type 1 diabetes, it’s likely that fewer children would come down with type 1 diabetes. Instead, he said, “vaccinations.” I’d never before heard of any link between vaccinations and type 1 diabetes, so I quickly did a MEDLINE search. I looked for articles on vaccinations and the cause of type 1 diabetes in humans. If you click on this link, you’ll see the same articles I did:
For me, this search yielded 60 articles, many of which I could read for free. By the time that you repeat this search, there may be more. Some of them were about the ability of vaccines to provide protective immunity in children who already had type 1 diabetes. Several articles were about the attempts to develop a vaccine to prevent type 1 diabetes.
One article pointed out that rubella infection was the only infectious disease that has been clearly implicated as a contributing cause of any form of type 1 diabetes. Of course, rubella could be completely eradicated, along with measles, if all of the world’s countries participated in a comprehensive vaccination campaign. Unfortunately, many people are refusing to get their children vaccinated against rubella because they are convinced that the MMR vaccine causes autism. I remember one woman in particular telling me that her child’s autism resulted from mercury in the MMR shot. I told her that I was sorry that her child has autism, but I can guarantee that mercury in the MMR shot had absolutely nothing to do with it. That’s because the mercury-containing preservative thiomersal has never been used in the MMR vaccine. I also explained to her that since congenital rubella infection is a possible cause of autism-spectrum disorder, then her efforts to scare people away from the MMR vaccine might make the problem worse, not better. If the world’s population worked together to eradicate measles, mumps, and rubella, then the MMR vaccine would no longer be needed.
The studies that looked for evidence of a statistical relationship between various vaccinations or vaccination schedules and type 1 diabetes kept coming up empty-handed. As the biggest and best-designed study concluded:
These results do not support a causal relation between childhood vaccination and type 1 diabetes.
If there really were some sort of cause-and-effect relationship, it would leave some evidence of its existence. In other words, we don’t have an absence of evidence, we have evidence of absence! There’s no rational reason to blame vaccinations for causing type 1 diabetes!
So far, vaccination campaigns have led to the complete eradication of two infectious diseases: smallpox and rinderpest. Smallpox is a human disease that was once a major cause of death and disfigurement. Rinderpest killed hundreds of millions of cattle. The next human disease that is about to be eradicated by vaccination is polio. Guinea worm disease (dracunculiasis) is about to be eradicated by a campaign of education about sanitation. It is technically possible to eradicate measles, mumps, rubella by vaccination and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) and cysticercosis (pork tapeworm) by other methods. There is even talk of eradicating malaria.
Nowadays, it’s no longer necessary to vaccinate people against smallpox. Soon, it will no longer be necessary to vaccinate people against polio. I look forward to the day when measles, mumps, and rubella are eradicated and the MMR vaccine will no longer be needed. In the meantime, there’s no need to worry that the currently used vaccinations pose any risk of type 1 diabetes.
Note: Most of the people who build antivaccine Web sites and produce antivaccine documentaries have a profit motive. Some of them are faith healers who want you to put money in their collection plate. Others are selling overpriced vitamins and unproven herbal remedies over the Internet. Still others are providing some sort of service that has never been proven to be safe and effective. A few of them run nonprofit organizations that give them a salary. To get you to support them financially, they need to undermine your trust in your family doctor. For that reason, they attack the single most important service that conventional medicine can provide: immunization against serious diseases that do not respond well to any available treatment. I explain the history and motivations of the antivaccination movement in detail in my book No More Measles! The Truth About Vaccines and Your Health.