Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases.. 2006 Nov 7;1:44 [Link]

Katharina Leithner1, Andreas Leithner2, Heimo Clar2 , Andreas Weinhaeusel3 , Roman Radl2 , Peter Krippl4 , Peter Rehak5 , Reinhard Windhager2 , Oskar A Haas6 and Horst Olschewski1

1Department of Pulmonology, University Clinic of Internal Medicine, Medical University Graz, Graz, Austria
2Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Medical University Graz, Graz, Austria
3Molecular Diagnostics, ARCS Seibersdorf, Seibersdorf, Austria
4Department of Oncology, University Clinic of Internal Medicine, Medical University Graz, Graz, Austria
5Division of Biomedical Engineering and Computing, Department of Surgery, Medical University Graz, Graz, Austria
6Children’s Cancer Research Institute (CCRI), St. Anna Children’s Hospital, Vienna, Austria


Background: It is well established that asbestos is the most important cause of mesothelioma. The role of simian virus 40 (SV40) in mesothelioma development, on the other hand, remains controversial. This potential human oncogene has been introduced into various populations through contaminated polio vaccines. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the possible presence of SV40 in various European countries, as indicated either by molecular genetic evidence or previous exposure to SV40-contaminated vaccines, had any effect on pleural cancer rates in the respective countries.

Methods: We conducted a Medline search that covered the period from January 1969 to August 2005 for reports on the detection of SV40 DNA in human tissue samples. In addition, we collected all available information about the types of polio vaccines that had been used in these European countries and their SV40 contamination status.

Results: Our ecological analysis confirms that pleural cancer mortality in males, but not in females, correlates with the extent of asbestos exposure 25 – 30 years earlier. In contrast, neither the presence of SV40 DNA in tumor samples nor a previous vaccination exposure had any detectable influence on the cancer mortality rate in neither in males (asbestos-corrected rates) nor in females.

Conclusion: Using the currently existing data on SV40 prevalence, no association between SV40 prevalence and asbestos-corrected male pleural cancer can be demonstrated.