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Home » Jimmy Buffett passed because of cancer, not vaccines

Jimmy Buffett passed because of cancer, not vaccines


Once again, as I have written in the past, I am forced to refute wild claims on the internet that popular singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett died because of vaccines. It appears that any time anyone dies, particularly celebrities, the anti-vaccine activists flood Twitter (not going to call it X) with posts that they died from vaccines.

What’s interesting is that the 76-year-old Jimmy Buffett was quite pro-vaccine, making sure that people who attended his concerts had a negative test or were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Of course, this incensed the anti-vaxxers, which probably led to their leaving vicious comments on Twitter (not X).

There is absolutely NO evidence that Jimmy Buffett died of any vaccine, let alone the COVID-19 vaccines. But we actually know what caused his passing.

Jimmy Buffett

What caused the death of Jimmy Buffet

We get actual facts here, not wild, unsubstantiated claims from the anti-vaccine world.

According to his official website, “Margaritaville” singer Jimmy Buffett died of Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare but aggressive form of skin cancer. Not vaccines.

Merkel cell carcinoma often resembles other forms of skin cancer, but it is very rare. It has to be identified by a skin biopsy. According to the American Cancer Society, there are only approximately 2000 cases of Merkel cell carcinoma diagnosed in the USA each year. To show how rarity of that cancer, compare it to the approximately 5.4 million basal and squamous cell cancers that are diagnosed each year in about 3.3 million Americans.

Merkel cell carcinoma, named after German physician Friedrick Merkel who first described Merkel cells, starts when these cells in the skin begin to grow out of control, like most cancers. Merkel cell carcinomas grow quickly and are difficult to treat once they spread beyond the skin.

If caught early, Merkel cell carcinoma can be treated relatively successfully. According to the American Cancer Society, based on data from 2012-2018, the 5-year survival rate for the cancer was 75% if it was localized, 61% if the cancer was regional, and 24% if it had metastasized to other areas.

Treatment is rather straightforward — early-stage Merkel cell carcinomas are surgically removed from the skin. Even the the 5-year survival is around 75% after surgical removal, other types of early-stage skin cancers have a 100% 5-year survival rate.

The problem is that the cancer can spread quickly if diagnosis and surgery aren’t done soon after the carcinoma appears. If the cancer reaches the lymph nodes or other parts of the body, patients are likely to also require chemotherapy or radiation.

The problem is that Merkel cell carcinoma is painless and hard to detect with visual inspection early on. Later stages of the disease can lead to symptoms like weight loss, night sweats, and enlarged lymph nodes.

It appears that Merkel cell carcinoma diagnoses, even though still very rare, have been increasing over the past decade. It’s difficult to link it to anything, it could just be better diagnostic tools and people just having their skin checked visually on a regular basis.

Goodbye Jimmy

The tribute on his official website reads in part, “He filled arenas with fans who called themselves ‘Parrot Heads,’ and popularized a signature blend of folk, country, and Caribbean music with lyrics that often reflected [his] world travels.”

That’s how we should remember him.

Michael Simpson

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