Turbo cancer is an anti-vaccination conspiracy theory[1] alleging that people vaccinated against COVID-19, especially with mRNA vaccines, are suffering from a high incidence of fast-developing cancers. Although the idea has been spread by a number of vaccine opponents, including doctors,[2] turbo cancer is not supported by cancer research, and there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes or worsens cancer.[3][4][5]


Opponents of COVID-19 vaccines such as Florida surgeon general Joseph Ladapo have claimed that trace amounts of contaminant DNA present alongside the vaccine's mRNA could integrate in the patient's genome, activating oncogenes responsible for cancer. In response, Céline Gounder pointed out that trace DNA exists in virtually every product originating from cell cultures, and that DNA vaccines are not known to cause cancer despite containing much higher amounts of DNA.[6] According to the US National Cancer Institute, "[t]here is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause cancer, lead to recurrence, or lead to disease progression. Furthermore, COVID-19 vaccines do not change your DNA".[5]

Examples of claims

A paper by antivaccine activists Stephanie Seneff, Peter McCullough and others claimed suppression of type 1 interferon could result in immune suppression that could promote cancer proliferation.[7] The study suggested hypothetical disease mechanisms linking mRNA vaccines to various pathologies through immune suppression. It used only anecdotal reports from VAERS as evidence, and was described by Jeffrey Morris as "shifting the burden of proof" by asking public health institutions to either prove the impossibility of these mechanisms or accept them.[8]

Similarly, a Frontiers in Oncology paper discussing a laboratory mouse dying of lymphoma after being injected with the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was claimed to prove the existence of turbo cancer. However, the study in question did not claim any causality between the two events. Notably, the type of mouse used in the study had a higher predisposition to sarcomas and lymphomas, with that specific individual having shown signs of preexisting cancer such as weight loss before the vaccine injection. The setup of the study was also criticized, as it differed from human vaccinations in the method of injection (intravenous rather than intramuscular) and dose in proportion to body weight (480 to 600 times higher).[9][10][11] The authors later added that their findings were "largely misinterpreted".[12]


  1. ^ Kendix, Stuart MacDonald, Max (25 April 2024). "GB News presenter Neil Oliver cleared by Ofcom over 'turbo cancer' claims".{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "False claims persist about COVID-19 vaccine-linked "turbo cancers"". Public Health Communication Collaborative (PHCC). 2023-08-18. Retrieved 5 October 2023.
  3. ^ "Fact Check-No evidence COVID-19 vaccines cause 'turbo cancer'". Reuters. Reuters. 14 December 2022.
  4. ^ Gorski, David (19 December 2022). "Do COVID-19 vaccines cause "turbo cancer"?". Science-Based Medicine.
  5. ^ a b "COVID-19 Vaccines and People with Cancer - NCI". www.cancer.gov. 10 February 2021.
  6. ^ Moniuszko, Sara (4 January 2024). "Florida surgeon general wants to halt COVID-19 mRNA vaccines; FDA calls his claims "misleading" - CBS News". CBS News. Retrieved 25 April 2024.
  7. ^ Seneff, Stephanie; Nigh, Greg; Kyriakopoulos, Anthony M.; McCullough, Peter A. (June 2022). "Innate immune suppression by SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccinations: The role of G-quadruplexes, exosomes, and MicroRNAs". Food and Chemical Toxicology. 164: 113008. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2022.113008. PMC 9012513. PMID 35436552.
  8. ^ Morris, Jeffrey (21 April 2022). "Does McCullough's paper really "establish a mechanistic framework" for mRNA vaccine harm?". Covid-19 Data Science.
  9. ^ Yandell, Kate (31 August 2023). "COVID-19 Vaccines Have Not Been Shown to Cause 'Turbo Cancer'". FactCheck.org.
  10. ^ "Paper does not prove Pfizer mRNA vaccine causes 'turbo cancer'". Fact Check. AFP. 21 July 2023.
  11. ^ "Claim linking Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, cancer in mouse distorts study | Fact check". USA TODAY.
  12. ^ Eens, Sander; Van Hecke, Manon; Favere, Kasper; Tousseyn, Thomas; Guns, Pieter-Jan; Roskams, Tania; Heidbuchel, Hein (2023). "Addendum: B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma following intravenous BNT162b2 mRNA booster in a BALB/c mouse: a case report". Frontiers in Oncology. 13. doi:10.3389/fonc.2023.1267904. ISSN 2234-943X. PMC 10622962.