Researchers at Italy’s University of Padova have claimed that the yellow fever vaccine could potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer.
They have suggested that administering the yellow fever vaccine to women aged between 40 and 54 could halve the risk of developing breast cancer.
During the study, the researchers analysed the medical records of over 12,000 women who had received the yellow fever vaccine. They found that in the 3,140 women aged 40 to 54, those who had received the vaccination more than two years ago were 54 per cent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who had received it within the previous two years.
They also found, however, that women who were vaccinated before the age of 40 or over the age of 54 did not see a significant reduction in breast cancer risk. They said this could be due to the fact women in these age groups typically develop more aggressive tumours that would not be stopped by the vaccine.
Responding to the study, UK research charity Breast Cancer Now senior research communications officer Dr Richard Berks said: “These findings are very intriguing, but a number of unanswered questions remain. Further studies are now needed to understand whether it is the yellow fever vaccine itself that is having this effect, or other factors, before this could be tested in people as a means to reduce breast cancer risk.
“With the number of people being diagnosed with breast cancer continuing to rise, we urgently need more research into breast cancer prevention to help improve the number of risk-reducing options available to women.”
He went on to add that women can help to reduce their risk of breast cancer by maintaining a healthy weight, reducing their alcohol intake and partaking in regular physical activity.