The cervical cancer injection is new. Clearly there have been concerns, but are the HPV vaccine side effects real or just hype?
However, before we go any further I need to clarify something. The human papillomavirus vaccination is NOT a cervical cancer vaccination. You can’t “vaccinate” against cancer, which is exactly why “cancer” is not in the name of the vaccine. What it IS in the name of is all the marketing materials and public service announcements.
If you care to take a step back and look at the marketing of Gardasil, you truly have to give kudos to how it was developed, marketed and rapidly integrated into public health measures. Here are a few key points:
- Over 100 different types of the HPV virus are know, but only about 13 of these are considered “high risk”
- Very often, the human body is able to clear the infection via the immune system.
- The Gardasil vaccination, licensed in the US in June of 2006, only protects against 4 of the high risk strains, 6, 11, 16 and 18
- When it was originally released and marketed at the “cervical cancer vaccination” it had not been proven to lower rates of cervical cancer
- To date, HPV vaccination has NOT been shown to lower rates of cervical cancer (yes–please read this one again)
So basically, what we have here is a situation where a virus has been linked to the development of cancer (called an oncogenic virus). A vaccine is developed to protect against some of the strains and, in trials, it is shown to result in an activation of the immune system. Later, it was found to lower the risk of precancerous lesions. That’s where it stops.
Before you think that this sounds ok, might I remind you of the hazards of using surrogate end marker testing.
I’ve written before about the folly of using surrogate endmarkers like cholesterol in medicine today. Our entire system is a house of cards built upon this concept. So what is a surrogate end marker?
Basically, we take a population and look at some value. To be consistent in this case we’ll look at cholesterol. Those with lower cholesterol had less risk of heart attacks. Makes sense. It is likely that those who take better care of themselves have lower cholesterol. But it is NOT the lower cholesterol that protects their heart. Their heart is protected because of the choices they have made. These choices lower cholesterol. AND raise HDL. AND lower blood pressure. And maintain ideal body composition. And improve gut health. And lower uric acid… The list is endless.
So, in the case of Gardasil, we assume that if we lower precancerous lesions, we are automatically lowering rates of cervical cancer. It’s a leap of faith that continues to fail again and again in today’s drug driven society of medical research.
It will be several decades yet before we are able to tell if HPV vaccination works to lower cervical cancer rates (although Merck’s own scientists seems to be a little apprehensive on this belief…).
So, if it lowers the risk of precancerous lesions, then why would we not be able to assume that it will prevent cervical cancer?
It’s this thing called Mother Nature. She always, always wins despite our best efforts to thwart her.
We’ve seen it happen with the pneumococcal vaccination Prevnar. The original vaccination only protected against 7 of the types of pneumococcal infection. So what happened? The other types started to rise up, creating even more problems and were harder to kill off. Not good. Luckily, Pfizer / Wyeth came riding in on a white horse with Prevnar 13. Now, everyone who had the Prevnar 7 needs the new one.
This particular study brings up vague recollections of what happened with the Prevnar debacle.
So what did they find?
- Vaccine-type HPV decreased 32%
- This decrease also occurred in those not vaccinated by 30%
Sound good so far? Then read this….the HPV that wasn’t covered by the vaccine increased by 61%.
This raises the possibility that, in the long run, the “cervical cancer injection” could increase the risk of cervical cancer. That would just with other failures of modern medical research like the beta blockers for blood pressure and statins to lower heart attack rates.
Have you been pressured by a physician, school or friends to have your child vaccinated against HPV?