Social media users are sharing posts claiming that there has been a 20-fold increase in certain types of cancer in patients vaccinated for COVID-19.
WHERE THE CLAIMS COME FROM
Examples of posts in February 2022 can be seen (here) and (here).
The claim was made by a user named Dr. Afzal Niaz in a tweet on Feb. 2, 2022 (archived here ) with the text: “WARNING TO ALL DOCTORS & DATA SCIENTISTS: I AM OBSERVING a massive spike in cancer. I am warning that there is now 20 times the normal average of certain types of cancers ever since the ‘Operation Warp Speed’ Injections were first introduced.” Twitter has since suspended his account (twitter.com/anmdusa/ ).
Another Twitter account with the name “Dr. Afzal Niaz” had previously claimed New York University Langone and other hospitals in New York and Long Island were not releasing babies from the neonatal intensive care unit to unvaccinated parents (archived here ). NYU Langone Health responded to Niaz’s tweet saying: “In response to the false & completely unfounded post circulating on social media: NYU Langone DOES NOT prohibit a parent/guardian from taking a child home from the NICU due to their vaccination status—we vehemently discourage the spread of this inaccurate, harmful information.” (here) This account was also suspended by Twitter (twitter.com/DRAFZALNIAZ2/).
Reuters was unable to verify or contact these users.
Some posts share an article published by LifeSite News (archived: archive.fo/zHhGG ) on Sept. 13, 2021 with the headline: “Idaho doctor reports a ‘20 times increase’ of cancer in vaccinated patients.”
Life Site News was removed from Facebook in May 2021 for violating COVID-19 policies (here). Reuters Fact Check has debunked claims stemming from the website in the past (here), (here) and (here).
The Life Site News article refers to a video of Dr. Ryan Cole speaking about increases in cases of cancer in a tweet (here).
In the video, Cole says that that he is observing an uptick in herpes, shingles, mononucleosis, human papillomavirus, cervical biopsies and molluscum contagiosum.
At the 1:02 mark (here), Cole says: “We’re literally weakening the immune system of these individuals. Now, most concerning of all, is there is a pattern of these types of immune cells in the body that keep cancer in check. Well, since January 1, in the laboratory I’ve seen a 20 times increase of endometrial cancers over what I see in an annual basis. A 20 times increase. I’m not exaggerating at all.” Cole then says he is seeing increased cases of melanomas.
Reuters contacted Cole for comment and further evidence from his laboratory (www.colediagnostics.com/).
In December 2021, local news organization Idaho Capital Sun reported that “the American Board of Pathology urged the Washington Medical Commission to consider the actions of Cole, who is licensed to practice in Washington and previously told the Idaho Capital Sun he prescribed medications including ivermectin to at least one patient in Washington, via telehealth.” (here)
Earlier in December 2021, another article by the Idaho Capital Sun (here) reported that Cole and his laboratory “Cole Diagnostics were removed from the St. Luke’s Health Partners network, a network of health care providers supporting 160,000 Idahoans.”
Cole has been previously criticized for spreading misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including an instance where he referred to COVID-19 vaccines as “needle rape” (here), (here), (here).
COVID-19 VACCINES AND CANCER: WHAT WE KNOW
Reuters has previously debunked the claim that COVID-19 vaccines cause cancer (here), or weaken the immune system (here).
Experts at Meedan’s Health Desk explained in Oct. 2021 (here) that experts found no evidence linking the vaccines to cancer or HIV.
No evidence was supplied to allow Reuters Fact Check to assess the veracity of the claim.
The American Cancer Society explains (here) that the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to cause increased cancer mortality over long term due to “delayed diagnoses; interruptions or alterations in potentially curative treatment; the possibility that some adults will abandon prior patterns of preventive care; and the expectation that millions of adults will remain unemployed and without health insurance.”
The disruption in regular cancer screenings and care during the COVID-19 pandemic is also discussed in medical journals (here), (here), (here).
One study (here) showed the number of endoscopies performed in April 2020, near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, was 90% less than the number performed in the first three months of 2020. The study highlighted that between 30 and 40 percent of patients diagnosed with cancer were done through routine outpatient referral pathways.
Dr. Gigi Gronvall, immunology expert and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (here), told Reuters via email that T cells do not work as described by Cole.
“If— and it’s a big if— he is seeing genuinely more cancer patients in a way that is statistically verifiable now, it is likely due to people putting off cancer and other medical screening during the last couple years,” Gronvall said.
Dr. Andrew Badley, an infectious disease expert and head of Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 Task Force, also told Reuters via email the COVID-19 pandemic has caused people to delay non-urgent healthcare tasks, which results in diseases that potentially would have been caught at early stages now presenting at more advanced stages with more challenges.
“Also, now that patients are re-engaging with the health care system, some are being diagnosed with illnesses that in many cases were not caught early,” Badley said. “Many of these are cancer diagnoses, as well as other severe diagnoses including neurologic disorders, cardiac disease and others.”
“There are no controlled studies which link these diagnoses to SARS-CoV2 infections, treatment of COVID-19 or to COVID-19 vaccines, and there is no reason to believe that these diagnoses are in any way associated with COVID-19 or with COVID-19 vaccines,” Badley added.
Gronvall concurred, saying “The vaccines have been examined in millions upon millions of people at this point and there is zero evidence that there is any link to any kind of cancer.”
Fact checkers USA Today (here), Health Feedback (here), FactCheck.org (here) and the Associated Press (here) have debunked the claim that COVID-19 vaccines are linked to increased cases of cancer.
Harvard Health explored a study in November (here) that found protective benefits of COVID-19 vaccines for cancer patients, as did a December Stanford study (here).
Misleading/No evidence. There is no evidence to suggest a causal link between COVID-19 vaccines and increased cases of cancer.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.