Vaccinations For Better or For Worse
There are some fundamental questions that should be asked of any
proposed treatment including vaccines. Does it do what it claims
it will do? What are the benefits? What are the risks? What are
the alternatives? How has the proposed treatment been promoted to
physicians and the public? Yet, as I have demonstrated in my last
article entitled Stop
the Swine Whine, these questions have been largely ignored
by H1N1 flu commentators, who have substituted propaganda, hysteria,
and fear-mongering for legitimate information.
It is under the backdrop of the H1N1 flu hysteria that the FDA
has quietly approved another human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine
for girls and for the first time, an HPV vaccine for boys. These
vaccinations, according to the vaccine makers, will dramatically
lower cervical cancer rates in women and genital warts in men.
Or will they? As usual, the truth is much more complicated. With
the advent of regular Pap smear screening of women in the U.S.,
the mortality rate from cervical cancer has dramatically decreased.
Now, compared to some other cancers like breast and lung cancer,
cervical cancer kills a relatively small 4,000 women in the U.S.
per year. As a result, the majority of cervical cancer victims
come from the third world where regular screening is not the standard
While every death due to cervical cancer is regretful, will the
vaccine really decrease these mortality numbers any further? The
answer to this question is supremely important because if it is
shown that the vaccine has no benefit or is only marginally effective,
then the whole framework of HPV vaccination would be in doubt.
In order to answer this question we must ask how 4,000 women could
die from cervical cancer when they are receiving regular screening.
Surely, a cancer that is known to take up to a decade or more
to develop from initial pre-cancerous changes would be caught
well in advance before it became problematic. So why are women
still dying? The answer is intuitively obvious. The 4,000 are
comprised of a subpopulation of women defined as underserved that
dont go to the doctor to get screened in the first place,
much less get vaccinated. It is frequently these women that show
up in the emergency room with inoperable and incurable invasive
cervical cancer. Therefore, it is also these women that contribute
the vast majority of deaths related to cervical cancer.
So why promote a vaccine to a population of women that are already
getting regular screening and will not likely get any mortality
benefit? Should not the vaccine makers be promoting their vaccine
exclusively to the high-risk population that is not likely to
obtain routine screening? Of course, this logical approach would
not pay back any research and development investment or put money
into the corporate offices of these companies.
Withheld from the public by the mainstream media have been an
increasing number of physicians and scientists coming out against
the vaccine and its supposed benefits. Recently, for example,
Columbia University professors Sheila M. and David J. Rothman
published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.
blasting Merck, which produces the Gardasil HPV vaccine for
paying grants to medical organizations that are strong advocates
for vaccination. Telling every mom she needs to get her
daughters vaccinated to protect them from cancer is creating a
market out of thin air, David Rothman says. They're
already protected through regular Pap smears, he adds.
Another researcher, Dr. Diane Harper, who participated as the
lead researcher in the development of two human papilloma
virus vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, said the controversial
drugs will do little to reduce cervical cancer rates and, even
though theyre being recommended for girls as young as nine,
there have been no efficacy trials in children under the age of
She has also added that because the rates of cervical cancer
are already so low that even if we get the vaccine and continue
Pap screening, we will not lower the rate of cervical cancer in
the US. (2)
The next logical question is that if all cervical cancer can
be prevented by the HPV vaccine then why cant we just stop
performing Pap smears in women and just give them the vaccine
instead? When I have talked to patients and even some physicians
about the HPV vaccine, I have consistently been presented with
the misconception that the vaccine is 100 % protective against
cervical cancer. The truth is that the vaccine protects against
two strains of HPV HPV 16 & 18, which are thought to
be responsible for only 70% of cervical cancer cases. So despite
the vaccine, women could be still infected with HPV strains that
cause up to 30% of cancer cases. It is because of this that women
need to continue regular screening just as they have already been
doing. Therefore, the added layer of the vaccine adds nothing
more than cost to the existing Pap smear screening regiment.
In addition, there are no long term studies that demonstrate
that the vaccine truly prevents cervical cancer itself and not
just infection rates. There is also no data that shows that the
protective effects of the vaccine will persist into a womans
30s, 40s, and 50s when cervical cancer is most predominant. So
far, the vaccine has been marketed, approved, and given to young
women almost exclusively.
What about the risks?
The vaccine makers claim that the HPV vaccine carries no long-term
side effects. However, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting
System (VAERS) has received more than 15,000 reports of reactions
to the vaccine, including more than 3,000 injuries and 48 deaths
after patients received the Gardasil vaccine. (3) While these
reactions may not be all attributable to the vaccine, it is clear
that reactions, sometimes severe, have occurred after vaccination.
Has this information caused the vaccine makers to withdraw their
promotional material and cervical cancer reduction claims? Quite
the contrary, their promotion efforts have continued. The Gardasil
vaccine, with sales of $1.4 billion in 2008, has not only received
generous advertisement promotion but has also been promoted through
generous donations to physician organizations such as the American
College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and Society
of Gynecologic Oncologists. It is these organizations that have
further disseminated HPV vaccine hysteria to member OB/GYNs and
primary care providers. In addition, Merck has been lambasted
for tactics such as lobbying lawmakers to make vaccination mandatory.
In a final straw, Merck has sought and been approved by the FDA
to vaccinate boys with Gardasil. This vaccination, which as has
been demonstrated can cause serious side effects, will now be
given to boys in order to treat relatively innocuous genital warts
and extremely rare penile cancer. I am sure that it is no coincidence
that according to Bloomberg, approval in boys could add
as much as $200 million to $300 million in annual sales
to Merck. (4)
What has been lost in all the disinformation has been the requirement
of sexual intercourse for transmission of the Human papilloma
virus. All it would take to put a stop to cervical cancer for
good would be for providers to promote and patients to practice
monogamy. As usual, this aspect has been downplayed by the vaccine
1. Weintraub, Arlene. Is Merck Overselling a Cancer Vaccine? BusinessWeek.
August 27, 2009.
2. Brinkmann, Susan. Gardasil Researcher Drops a Bombshell. The
Bulletin. October 25, 2009.
3. Brinkmann, Susan. New HPV Vaccine Making Girls In UK Sick.
The Bulletin. September 20, 2009.
4. Pettypiece, Shannon. Merck Wins U.S. Approval for Gardasil
Vaccine in Boys. Bloomberg. October 16, 2009.
Adam Murdock, M.D. is founder of The
full list of h1n1 vaccine ingredients, alerts and warnings.
Reference Sources: www.freemeninstitute.com
November 1, 2009