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Cancer Prevention

Is the HPV Vaccine Safe and Effective?

One of the newest and loudest players on the vaccination scene is Gardasil, the vaccine that claims to prevent HPV which Merck alleges to be the cause of cervical cancer. The “One Less” campaign was impossible to avoid and led girls to feel empowered and in control of their health if they received this miraculous vaccine.

What if the claim of preventing HPV is far fetched or even totally misleading in many cases? What if the vaccine actually caused more precancerous lesions in some women? What if HPV is not really a terrible disease but an extremely common virus that most people contract and get over rather quickly without incident? What if HPV doesn’t even cause cervical cancer? Would you still take the vaccine? Would you still make your daughter take it?

All cancer is serious business and people will do what they can to avoid getting it. As far as survival rates go, however, cervical cancer is one of the most favorable. It is very easy and inexpensive to detect, it can take up to 20 years to develop (which gives 8-20 pap smears a chance to catch it) and is due to the accessibility of the cervix, it is much easier to treat that many other types of cancer.

Cervical cancer is also very rare at only about 1 in 135 women (vs 1 in 8 women who will get breast cancer). There are many risk factors for cervical cancer including poor nutrition (specifically lack of folate and vitamin A), oral contraceptives, smoking and a weakened immune system. These are all very simple lifestyle choices that are very easy to change if a person is truly interested in avoiding cervical cancer or any other cancer for that matter. (Perhaps it seems easier to get a shot than to quit smoking?)

In addition to cervical cancer being very rare to contract and very easy to diagnose, the prognosis is excellent relative to other cancers: The survival rate for cervical cancer with early detection is over 90%. “With treatment, 80 to 90% of women with stage I cancer and 50 to 65% of those with stage II cancer are alive 5 years after diagnosis. Only 25 to 35% of women with stage III cancer and 15% or fewer of those with stage IV cancer are alive after 5 years.” (Wikipedia)

So what we have here is a cancer that very rare, easy to diagnose, easy to treat and has an incredible survival rate. Those facts are small comfort to the 4,000 (or less) women in the US who die from cervical cancer every year. Who wouldn’t want to be one less? If the vaccine can lower the death rate, then what can it hurt, right? It might hurt if HPV does not even cause cervical cancer.

As it turns out, no one has ever proven that HPV actually causes cervical cancer. They have identified an almost 100% correlation between HPV and cervical cancer. In other words, HPV cells are found in virtually all cervical cancers, but that does not mean that HPV caused it. In fact, in 2003, the FDA admitted that they know that HPV does not cause cervical cancer and Natural News uncovered the FDA documents to prove it.

“Since at least 2003, the FDA has changed its position on the relationship between Human Papilloma Virus and cervical cancer, stating that the HPV strain is “not associated with cervical cancer.” Natural News

Researchers do know that sexual history seems to play a large role in cervical cancer. Nuns, for example rarely get cervical cancer unless they were sexually active before they entered the convent. The risk of cervical cancer also seems to go up in relation to the number of sex partners a woman has. The most interesting finding of all, is that the second wives of men whose first wives died of cervical cancer are more likely to get cervical cancer themselves. (Wikipedia)

It seems fairly logical to conclude that cervical cancer could be caused by the sperm, a variety of semen or something abnormal in the ejaculate of certain males. Since 80% of women have HPV by the time they are 50 and less than 1% of women contract cervical cancer then certainly there must be more to the story than only HPV. In fact, one study did find that prostglandins in semen fuel the growth of cervical and uterine tumors. (Wikipedia)

In 1992, 2 molecular biologists at the University of California at Berkely proposed that HPV is a marker rather than a cause of cervical cancer. “In short, Duesberg and Schwartz were pointing to the possibility that “carcinogens may be primary inducers of abnormal cell proliferation rather than HPV or HSV.” And here’s the key point: “Since proliferating cells [cancer cells dividing wildly] would be more susceptible to infection than resting cells, the viruses would just be indicators rather than causes of abnormal proliferation.”: …..and from the same article, “Even the National Cancer Institute (NCI) says that “direct” causation has not been demonstrated” Mercola.com

So maybe the vaccine will not make you “one less” if there is something else about sex that causes cervical cancer but HPV must be a really horrible thing to contract, right? Shouldn’t we still do everything we can to avoid this terrible virus? Not really. Over 3/4 of the population has HPV and it is rarely a problem. HPV normally cures itself in healthy women.

ABOUT HPV:
  • The large majority of people cure themselves (usually without ever knowing that they had been infected). Average length of time from infection to cure is about 8 months. Most times, if low risk HPV is detected in a woman without symptoms, we would recommend only “watchful waiting” as treatment.
  • Early changes on the cervix which could lead to cancer are nearly always discovered on Pap tests.
  • Warts, if they develop, are usually treatable.
  • The HPV virus is so common that it can almost be considered normal to have it. (Health.rutgers.edu)

Persistent infections of HPV only occur when the host female is already in an unhealthy, low immunity state. Interestingly, this unhealthy state is the same prime environment for cancer to take hold forty or fifty years later.

Let’s reiterate: We are vaccinating young, healthy girls against a virus that is extremely common, essentially harmless and goes away on its own and it has never been proven to cause a cancer that is very rare, easy to diagnose and treat and has a magnificent survival rate. Hmmmmm. There must be a great reason to drop $400 on this vaccination! What could it be?

OK, let’s say for sake of argument that HPV might cause cervical cancer (even though it has never been proven and the FDA claims it does not). On the off chance that it is in fact the cause of cervical cancer, then maybe we should get in line for this wonderful vaccine? What could it hurt? Shouldn’t we err on the side of caution?

Well, as it turns out there is a lot to be afraid of from the vaccine itself. As of October 2007, there have been almost 3,500 reported adverse reactions to Gardasil, including 11 deaths and 347 serious reactions. Keep in mind that historically, adverse reactions are seriously underreported both from the patients and more importantly the doctors who take the information after the fact and have a moral and ethical responsibility to report such reactions but for some reason ($$$$) fail to do so.

  • “Information has been received … concerning a 17 year old female who in June 2007 … was vaccinated with a first dose of Gardasil … During the evening of the same day, the patient was found unconscious (lifeless) by the mother. Resuscitation was performed by the emergency physician but was unsuccessful. The patient subsequently died.”
  • “Information has been received … concerning a 12 year old female with a history of aortic and mitral valve insufficiency … who on 01-MAR-2007 was vaccinated IM into the left arm with a first does of Gardasil … On 01-MAR-2007 the patient presented to the ED with ventricular tachycardia and died.”
  • “Initial and follow-up information has been received from a physician concerning an ‘otherwise healthy’ 13 year old female who was vaccinated with her first and second doses of Gardasil. Subsequently, the patient experienced … paralysis from the chest down, lesions of the optic nerve…At the time of the report, the patient had not recovered.”
  • One earlier report, No. 275438-1, describes the reaction as coronary artery thrombosis, sudden cardiac death. “Given Gardasil vaccine dose #1 3/12/07. Collapsed and died on 3/26/07… Echocardiogram revealed very enlarged right ventricle, small left ventricle as well as large blood clots within both the right atrium & right ventricle.”
  • Another report noted that the woman was vaccinated and “died of a blood clot 8 hours after getting the Gardasil vaccine.” (WorldNetDaily)

That is eleven deaths. Maybe Gardasil’s slogan should be “One More” not “One Less”. In addition to the needless deaths, there are also cases of permanent disability such as paralysis, Bells Palsy, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and seizures. Gardasil can also cause serious complications if given to pregnant women or girls, including spontaneous abortion (c’mon Merck, what is it, one less or one more??) and serious fetal abnormalities. In fact, as of October 2007, of the 77 women who were pregnant when they received the vaccine, 33 had adverse reactions. That is almost half.

Gardasil is clearly not to be given to pregnant women, ever, under any circumstances. It should also not be given to women or girls who are sexually active at all. Why? Because they have already been exposed to HPV and the vaccine only works on women/girls who have never been exposed. In fact, Gardasil has been proven to activate dormant HPV in girls who already carry the virus causing an increase in precancerous lesions by almost 44%.

Gardasil is worthless for sexually active girls and women because they have most likely been exposed to HPV and could potentially be pregnant which creates serious risks for their fetus, including death. If Gardasil can only be given to virgins, how can that be proved? Should 9 year old girls submit to a pelvic exam to search for a hymen so Merck can make $400? Shouldn’t their sexual status be their business? Don’t they have a basic right to privacy? Maybe these 9 year old girls should simply undergo a pelvic swab for the presence of HPV. Is that more appropriate? Will Merck be responsible for parental reactions when the girl’s sexual status has been exposed?

“Clearly, this kind of patient questioning crosses all kinds of ethical barriers when such vaccinations are made mandatory (as they have been made in Texas). It puts the State in the positioning of ascertaining the sexual habits of very young teenage girls and then potentially causing them harm. It’s not hard to suppose that most sexually active teenage girls would claim to still be virgins (especially if their parents were present), creating a situation where vaccines would be routinely administered to precisely the HPV carrier subgroups for which it has been demonstrated to greatly increase the risk of precancerous lesions.” Natural News

 

And why on earth is Merck (and the supporting states) recommending or mandating this vaccine for all girls up to 26 years of age? Why aren’t they simply saying to get the vaccine before you are sexually active? Why isn’t it common knowledge that the vaccine is potentially dangerous for sexually active women? Because there are millions of girls and young women that will submit to this vaccine in the hopes that it will prevent cancer much later in life and most of them have already had sex. Each one of those girls represents $400. It is crazy profits when multiplied by millions of trusting girls. Since when do the drug companies really care about death or disability? It is simply collateral damage, the cost of doing business.

Lastly, there is one more hole in the argument for Gardasil. Even if there is a chance that HPV causes this cancer that is very easy to diagnose and treat and has a phenomenal survival rate, and even if HPV was not a relatively benign virus that everybody gets and most people get over in a few months, then maybe we should at least vaccinate all of our virgins, right? It would be unethical, wrong, dangerous and a tremendous waste of resources to vaccinate women and girls who are already sexually active, but the virgins can still be protected!

Here is the biggest problem of all with Gardasil. It is only good for 4-6 years. If you give it to a nine year old then we all hope she will still be a virgin in 4 years, right? So if a girl remains a virgin then Gardasil was totally worthless. If a virgin gets the vaccine and then has her first sexual experience the very next day (how fortuitous), then she will in fact, be protected from HPV for the next few years. This is the only case where HPV actually does what it is supposed to do. What if the girl is 16 when she gets vaccinated and has sex for the first time the very next day and the vaccine is effective until she is 20 or 22? Then what? What about the next 30+ years that she is sexually active? She is already sexually active so she cannot and should not under any circumstances get the vaccine again because she was already exposed to HPV and it could increase her likelihood of precancerous lesions. She could also potentially be pregnant and since Gardasil causes permanent and irreparable damage to almost 50% of the fetuses that it comes in contact with, then it would be murder to take it, right?

How much protection from cervical cancer do you think that 4-6 years of protection from HPV will offer that girl who had her first sexual experience the day after she received the Gardasil vaccine? Most women do not get cervical cancer until they are in their 50s. So does 4 years of immunity (from a benign virus that does not cause cervical cancer) when a girl is in her teens, protect her against cervical cancer in her 50s?

Gardasil only went through 3 1/2 years of testing and many experts question the findings (Mercola). It has not been proven to prevent any cancer at any time, only to protect women against HPV if they had never been exposed to it before. The risks of Gardasil are tremendous and widespread. The risks of HPV and cervical cancer are not. While all deaths from cervical cancer are tragic and not to be minimized, we should use those numbers as a platform to encourage healthy living and regular pap smears which are the real force behind the wonderful survival rates of cervical cancer.

If you are really interested in preventing cervical cancer, then optimize your fitness and nutrition levels (yes this is a bit more difficult than getting a shot but it actually works). Gets tons of fresh air, sunshine, vitamins and minerals. Minimize stress, stay happy and laugh. Try herbs that will bolster your immune system like Reishi mushrooms, bee propolis, and, echinacea. Cervical cancer seems to have a link to promiscuity so respecting yourself rather than freely giving yourself away should give you an advantage against cervical cancer as well as keeping your self esteem intact.

If you are really interested in avoiding HPV then either abstain or use a condom. Abstinence only works as long as you practice it obviously, but used in conjunction with carefully choosing your partners, it may limit your risk somewhat. Condom use has been shown to protect against HPV transmission to some extent but it is not foolproof and only lowers your risk by about 50%. If you are sexually active you can choose your partners wisely and use a condom but there is still a great chance you will contract HPV despite your efforts.

A better goal than avoiding infection, is avoiding persistent infection by following the same healthy lifestyle tips that will help prevent cervical cancer in the long run. In addition, if you need to treat a persistent case of HPV, many people take anti-viral susbtances both orally and topically with good results such as garlic, tea tree and Neem oil. Some other anti-viral herbs are Grapefruit seed extract, olive leaf extract, lemon balm, oil of oregano, lauric acid in coconut oil, and rosemary oil. Many people swear by Miracle II soap as well, which also contains a number of natural anti-viral ingredients.

I welcome comments from anyone who feels my logic and conclusions are way off base. Maybe you still believe that HPV is a terrible virus and four years of protection is worth the risks of the vaccine. Maybe you believe that cervical cancer isn’t rare, easy to diagnose or treat. Maybe you even have scientific evidence that HPV actually causes cervical cancer or maybe you believe Gardasil is truly safe (and the adverse reactions and deaths were caused by something else). Maybe you simply think that vaccinations are our civic duty and we should vaccinate ourselves and our loved ones whenever the government and/or Big Pharma suggests it (my favorite argument). If you believe any of this, please leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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About the author

Natural Health – who has written posts on A Much Better Way.


Discussion

22 Responses to “Is the HPV Vaccine Safe and Effective?”

  1. This is scary stuff. I just was at the doctor’s office and they had a big poster for Gardasil on the wall. Not an encouraging sign.

    Posted by Rob | October 7, 2008, 2:50 pm
  2. I found this very eye opening! I had the vaccine when it first came out, it was a big deal, my mom sent me in, i am 22 years old. A couple months ago i had an abnormal pap screening, which led to further testing, ending in surgery on my cervix,apparently i had precancerous lesions. and now if i want kids, its now or never, because the normal treatment of my condition is hysterectomy. And i dont want that, i want kids! But im not ready, but im going to have to be, i will hate myself if i lose to oppertunity to have children because i waited. no one ever told me not to get it if i was already sexually active, if they did, i wouldn’t have gotten it. if i had ANY clue that it would affect my fertility, i would never have done it. Now what the hell am i supposed to do?

    Posted by Logen | December 23, 2008, 1:35 pm
  3. @Logen:

    I am really sorry this happened to you. Adverse reactions to Gardasil continue to come to light and all are very tragic. Have you had a second opinion, perhaps from a naturopathy? I am not aware that precancerous lesions require a hysterectomy. Please visit a less aggressive doctor before making any decisions and of course maintain optimal health so the lesions either disappear or never develop into full blown cancer.

    Please do not be afraid to tell other young women what happened to you. It is so tragic.

    Posted by Natural Health | December 23, 2008, 2:38 pm
  4. If you want to be taken seriously, and not dismissed as just another incense-huffing hippie wannabe wingut, there are a few things you could do to improve your credibility. First, citing Wikipedia and Youtube as your research sources might not be the best choice. These are fun and sometimes useful toys, but they can hardly be considered as valid authorities, since any idiot can put anything on them. Then, when suggesting alternatives to whatever it is you are against, you might want to include some actual medical choices, instead of just pushing whatever wheat-germ extract is currently all the rage among the vegan set. Finally, if you choose to cite an “expert” who agrees with you, you would probably do well not to choose a fringe doctor whose website is one big commercial for his “alternative medicine” products. I am under no illusions that the medical industry is a philanthropic organization, but they do at least generally adhere to some minimum standards of scientific inquiry. If the holistic medicine movement expects to ever appeal more than a few hippies and desperate dying people then you guys really need to at least pretend to do the science. Is that so much to ask, just a little effort? Or maybe that’s the problem. Maybe you know these lame herbal BS products are useless, and real study would prove that to be so. Better to remain ignorant and sell to people who prefer to be ignorant as well. I guess it’s no worse than the drug companies. You have as much right to screw people over for a buck as the next guy, so enjoy. For your own sake, though, at least try to pretend there is some science behind your BS, you would probably sell more bee-pollen capsules that way and make even more money. That’s what it’s all about, right?

    Posted by Not So Gullible | August 20, 2009, 1:54 pm
  5. Thanks for this informative article. It will surely going to help people to get aware about vaccination process. Regarding cancer I think it is worth taking a vaccine because you never know what tomorrow will bring to you?

    Posted by vitamine d | September 2, 2009, 4:18 am
  6. @Not So Gullible:

    Thanks for the well thought out comment. Just for the record, I am not trying to sell bee pollen capsules or anything else by writing this article. I have two daughters and you would have to put a loaded gun to my head in order for me to agree to give them the HPV vaccine. The responsiblity to prove safety and efficacy should be on the manufacturers and perhaps the government, and neither of them have proven either one. The burden of proof is not up to people who choose not to be vaccinate or put their loved ones in harms way.

    Posted by Natural Health | September 2, 2009, 2:34 pm
  7. Hi…
    Thank you for the information. I will never put my loved ones or myself to the HPV vaccine because the manufacturing company fails to prove it as safe and effective. Also government has failed to prove the same.

    Posted by nikon kameratasche | September 3, 2009, 11:18 pm
  8. I am a student and I just finished my rotation in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and I observed about 1/3-2/3 women HPV+ and of those unlucky many, about 1/10 with ASCUS who received cervical biopsies. Unless your daughters plan on entering the convent, I suggest you and your daughters witness what the routine of an HPV+ woman, the every 3-4 month colposcopies and possible cervical biopsies, because it is not a fun regimen. The vaccine has been through enough rigorous testing to assure it’s efficacy for the good of the population. :)

    Posted by Carli | December 3, 2009, 7:01 pm
  9. Cervical cancer is still cancer, and potentially deadly, no matter how rare your curious stats seem to suggest, and HPV is still HPV — a damn nuisance if you get it. A vaccine like Gardasil is just a pin prick in the arm, so if a moment’s inconvenience has the potential to save my daughter’s life, I’d say “Go for it!”

    Posted by HPV | February 2, 2010, 2:52 am
  10. I agree cancer is cancer. I wouldn’t mess with it. Hopefully they will come out with a cure soon.
    Red Widow

    Posted by Bob | July 15, 2010, 9:02 am
  11. Is any vaccine really safe?

    Posted by Benjamin | July 15, 2010, 10:02 am
  12. Hi I have a quick question. How would you do a community project on teen girls health issues to include STDs and AIDS/HIV/HPV ?

    Posted by James | July 22, 2010, 2:03 pm
  13. Great article, actually had this come up in a dr. visit, and decided against the vaccine. Seems like too many risks, not enough reward.

    Posted by Massage In Salt Lake City | August 3, 2010, 7:19 am
  14. It is said that the drug companies that offer the doctor’s the most money get the most attention regardless of their merit and usefulness. Usually the most effect drugs are never mentioned because they are not profitable. The bottom line is more important than human health and lives.

    Posted by jenn | August 3, 2010, 10:29 am
  15. Hey! Thats very interesting. Thanks for some of the posts. I feel they were helpful. Its good to have sites with useful info instead of a bunch of garbage. Teaching others is a useful tool that is usually highly beneficial. Regards, Julie

    Posted by Michelle | August 10, 2010, 7:01 pm
  16. Simply for record, I don’t try to sell a bee of capsules pollen or something else, having written this article. At me two daughters, and you to put the charged pistol to my head that I agree to give them vaccines against ВПЧ. Responsiblity to prove safety and efficiency should be on manufacturers and, probably, the governments, and any of them have appeared or one. Burden доказывания not to people who prefer not to be bacterination or to put their relatives in harm ways.

    Posted by skin | October 13, 2010, 11:06 am
  17. Abstinence and monogamy are also ways to prevent HPV.

    Posted by Natural Healing | October 22, 2010, 3:01 pm
  18. After having my first child I was told that I had HPV and showed signs of precancerous cells. My doctor told me that he gave Gardasil to a young lady with the same HPV a same signs. He proceeded to tell me that later the girl was cleared and had no signs of cancer. Here is my concern I thought that we were not suppose to be given the drug if we already had signs of the so called HPV inflicted cancer. Sense than I have had three miscarriages, each time miscarrying in the first trimester. Can this be in cause of the shots? My cycles have been completely wacked sense then to not just late or early but beyond that without getting gross. Can this be in fact from the shots? I don’t even have health insurance anymore and can’t find out what maybe going on. It all just makes me wonder because everything was fine until this shot. Now I’m always haven abdomen pain, and the shots were the only thing that I did differently. I cannot figure out what other than the shots that I did differently before all these new symptoms showed up. Mind you to my first child I had no problem getting pregnant. It happened very fast, and now after the shots, I’ve had three miscarriages and cannot seem to carry a child. Is it just all coincidence? I have no faith in the FDA let alone our government. So did my doctor set me up? If this is all the cause of the shots, after the few years that it is suppose to last will everything go back to normal?

    Posted by Megan | November 4, 2010, 9:57 am
    • Sheryl Lyon

      @Megan:
      I am so sorry for your experience. There is no way to know if the shots have caused your reproductive difficulties but I certainly would not dismiss the possibility. Maybe you can try detoxing the best you can.

      Posted by admin | December 11, 2010, 7:43 pm
  19. Reishi is the legendary wizard of all superior medicinal herbs because of its apparent medical efficacy and the absence of unfavorable side-effects and toxins resulting from consumption.

    Posted by Bob | November 9, 2010, 1:25 pm
  20. HA! WOW!!! Great article! Unfortunately this will never get any mainstream press or attention. You don’t have enough money, and even if you did you would be sued and tied up in court for ages just to have a right to speak freely! Only in America…

    Posted by Beekeeper Tim | August 7, 2011, 3:00 pm
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