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After years of speculation, it’s finally been confirmed that the hepatitis B vaccine causes multiple sclerosis (MS). Researchers from Harvard estimate that it increases the risk by over three times, but they’re not sure if the vaccine causes MS in those prone to it, or if it just speeds its progress. This link may also mean that the vaccine could cause other serious autoimmune diseases, as many have suspected.
Suspicions were first raised around 10 years ago when 200 people in France developed MS shortly after being given the hepatitis B vaccine. But an earlier Harvard study, published in 2001, could find no link. Since then several members of the original research team have voiced their concerns that their conclusions may have been wrong.
This time the Harvard team has been more emphatic, and has even said that the benefits of the vaccine only might outweigh the risks. In medical jargon, that’s a very big ‘might’.
(Source: Neurology, 2004; 63: 838-42)