"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again..."

Location: Tampa, FL, United States

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Whoa, slow down. Gardasil? March of the human papilloma virus

Should parents have their young daughters vaccinated with Merck’s Gardasil® to prevent infection from 4 of the 100+ genotypes of human papillomavirus (HPV)? The only two high-risk, cervical cancer-associated types Gardasil is said to have efficacy against are HPV types 16 and 18. These two types are linked to only 70% of cervical cancer cases. This means Gardasil is ineffective at preventing 30% of cervical cancer cases (at least). Whether or not to have one’s daughter vaccinated with Gardasil should ultimately be a parental decision independent of any intrusive civil government mandate.

If one reads the latest study in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA; Prevalence of HPV Infection Among Females in the United States - Feb 18, 2007; 297: No. 8, pp. 813-819) the knee-jerk reaction of parents might possibly be, “yes,” let's get our daughter vaccinated. The study claims that HPV is more widespread than formerly suspected, with 26.8% of females between the ages of 14-59 afflicted. For the 20-24 year-old demographic the prevalence was reported to be a whopping 44.8%.

Only 3.4% of patients in the JAMA study had one or more of the 4 HPV types that Gardasil is effective against. Only 2.3% of the patients in the study had the “high-risk” HPV types 16 or 18. The study categorized these paltry sensitivity figures using the relative statement, “the prevalence of HPV vaccine types was relatively low. The “relatively low” euphemism can cover a “relatively high” range of figures, enabling the misconception that the sensitive HPV genotypes are more numerous than they really are.

The study authors admit that about 90% of HPV infections resolve within 2 years. About 80% of all cases world-wide occur in people outside the United States, which suggests our current health care system is already well-equipped in minimizing occurrences of HPV. To help frame the magnitude of the problem, consider that for every American over 18 years of age dying from cervical cancer (3,700 deaths per year) nearly 100 (300,000 deaths per year) are dying from heart disease. Relatively speaking , cervical cancer merits as much attention in the "war on death" as does foreign aid to Congo in any recent given presidential election.

Gardasil’s duration of protection from cervical cancer, if any, is still unknown. With the average age at time of diagnosis of cervical cancer being 47-48, who’s to say any short-term, cancer-free state experienced in a vaccinated teenage girl today will persist after a decade, two or three has elapsed post-vaccination? With that in mind one can confidently state there isn’t any reasonable solid evidence yet enabling the claim Gardasil prevents cervical cancer. However, Merck’s package insert for Gardasil claims it’s “for the prevention of the following diseases caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) types 6,11,16 and 18: cervical cancer… [italics mine]”

Gardasil is expensive. As of this writing the three boosters run about $360 total. After the three injections one has been exposed to 675mcg of aluminum. Aluminum is known to be toxic to neuronal neurotubules, interfere with antioxidant enzymes, poison DNA repair enzymes, interfere with mitochondrial energy production, block the glutamate reuptake proteins (increased vulnerability to Alzheimer’s?), bind to DNA, and interfere with neuronal membrane function. Aluminum has not yet been subjected to safety trials yet finds its way into injectable vaccines (and our food suuply). Merck even included aluminum in 91.5% of the injectable "placebo" formulation in its study. Such sloppy methodology easily suggests a concerted attempt at manipulating the study to produce a favorable outcome, at least with the side effect profile.

Gardasil contains Polysorbate-80, which has been linked to infertility in mice. Gardasil contains sodium borate, which kills roaches. 5 cases of birth defects have been reported wherein vaccination occurred within one month of the time of pregnancy. Merck denies any connection but the evidence warrants further monitoring. Gardasil has not been evaluated for the potential to cause carcinogenicity or genotoxicity.

HPV is entirely avoidable through following certain behaviors. It’s only passed around by way of sexual contact. Gardasil is an expensive, poorly tested, unproven vaccine (at preventing cervical cancer) being touted to fend off an easily preventable disease that seldom kills and most often resolves on its own. The slow and insidious onset of cervical cancer mandates that it will take decades to make reasoned conclusions on whether or not Gardasil’s ability to prevent certain HPV infections translates into marked reduction in cases of cervical cancer.

Are America’s young daughters being called upon by Merck to be the fiscal antidote to Merck’s Vioxx fiasco? Has Merck pumped millions of dollars into the pockets of state officials to have Gardasil added to the list of routine vaccinations required for public school attendance? (Merck would not be held liable for any adverse reactions secondary to Gardasil if they can get it included on state government lists for required vaccinations for entrance into school per the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986). Would the pro-Gardasil politicians and media outlets please start publicizing any recent donations from Merck, or the lack thereof, to save use all time and energy from digging the information out on our own?

Perhaps one day indole-3-carbinol (I3C), an antiestrogenic phytonutrient with potential for combating HPV-induced growths in the cervix, will be a widely used preventive measure.


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