Can Vaccines Cause Macrophagic Myofasciitis (MMF)?
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A condition discovered in France two decades ago, macrophagic myofasciitis, known by its initials MMF, is a very rare muscle disease that can be extremely debilitating to those whom it afflicts. Its symptoms are similar to those associated with multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia, and include chronic fatigue, joint pain, and chronic inflammation. For those who have this condition, it is often linked to high levels of aluminum hydroxide, which happens to be a common ingredient found in many types of common vaccines. Because of this, some medical experts and researchers believe this rare condition is in fact caused by an adverse reaction to standard vaccines. 

According to researchers with the World Health Organization, the aluminum hydroxide found in vaccines stays in the injection site for many years, where it stimulates an immune response. While this sounds good to many people, researchers believe this could be one of the reasons that leads to MMF. Though having the aluminum hydroxide at the injection site for an extended period of time will allow the immune system to react more strongly to the virus for which it is made to combat, keeping the body’s immune system turned on at all times is thought by researchers to be a contributing factor in the chronic fatigue aspect of MMF. 

As one of the first signs vaccines may be one of the causes of MMF, French researchers in the 1990’s began to think an increase in MMF cases could be linked to the anthrax vaccine given to military personnel during the Gulf War. Thus, in studies conducted on those who showed symptoms of MMF after receiving the anthrax vaccine, it was determined motor skills decreased significantly due to a loss of muscle strength. In addition, researchers found certain neurons, known to destroy themselves, did so at a rate of 225% in subject’s lumbar spinal cord. 

Along with the anthrax vaccine, MMF is thought to be linked to a variety of much more common vaccines, including DPT and DTaP, hepatitis-B, and other similar vaccines. However, while researchers at the World Health Organization acknowledged the presence of aluminum at an injection site for an extended period of time could theoretically lead to problems associated with MMF, they have stopped short of concluding outright that any of the previously mentioned vaccines directly lead to MMF. In some studies, researchers have theorized that some individuals who received DPT, DTaP, and hepatitis-B vaccines may have been unable to clear aluminum from their deltoid muscle, which would be classified as a genetic flaw rather than being attributed to a flaw with a particular vaccine. However, more research is needed in this area before a final determination can be made. 

Finally, some medical experts also believe that rather than the problem of MMF being associated with the vaccine itself, problems may be occurring due to how the vaccine is administered. With many doctors who now administer these vaccines, the preferred method has changed from subcutaneous to intramuscular. This change may cause a stronger local inflammatory response in some individuals, leading to the onset of MMF. But as it is with research regarding the clearing of aluminum from deltoid muscles, additional data is required before making a final conclusion. 

While still a relatively rare disease, MMF cases have risen in recent years, which has led to the increased scrutiny of vaccines as being a possible cause. However, at this time, the World Health Organization does not recommend any changes be made to current vaccination practices with regards to aluminum-containing vaccines.

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