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Vaccinating Children for Hepatitis B Cuts Rate of Liver Cancer by Half

From Times staff and wire reports

The risk of liver cancer has fallen by half among children in Taiwan since hepatitis B vaccinations became routine a decade ago. Liver cancer is a major killer, especially in much of the developing world, and the hepatitis B virus is thought to be a major culprit.

Taiwan began a program of vaccinating newborns against the virus in 1984--a program that has been adopted in the United States--and expanded it to schoolchildren in the late 1980s. A team from the National Taiwan University Hospital report in the New England Journal of Medicine that the rate of liver cancer in children ages 6 to 14 fell from 0.7 cases per 100,000 children between 1981 and 1986 to 0.36 cases per 100,000 between 1990 and 1994.


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