The risk of HPV and the 6 cancers it causes may go the way of Polio and Smallpox. “The impact of the HPV vaccination has exceeded expectations,” according to the Lauri Markowitz, of the CDC. “The trials showed that HPV vaccines are very effective, and data from the real world has confirmed that.”
HPV is also the most common sexually transmitted disease in the US. It is also the cause of cervical cancer, the second most common cancer, and the fifth leading cause of death in women worldwide.
HPV is the cause of the following cancers:
- Cervical cancer:
- HPV causes nearly 100% of cervical cancers
- Anal cancer:
- HPV causes over 90% of anal cancers
- Oral cancer:
- HPV causes over 70%
- Throat cancer:
- HPV causes over 70%
- Neck cancers:
- HPV causes over 70%
- Penile cancer:
- HPV causes over 60%
In a major study published June 26th, researchers examined HPV vaccine results from 14 high-income countries and over 60 million people during 8 years
The study found that the HPV vaccine dramatically decreased the risk of HPV, which has been proven to cause the 6 different kinds of cancer listed above–which is powerful evidence that these vaccines will cause major drops in cancer rates.
More specifically, cases of the 2 highest risk HPV were reduced 83% among girls ages 13 to 19 years old. For women ages 20-24, the rate of these 2 high risk HPV infections was down 66%.
Additional findings showed a 67% reduction in genital warts for teen girls and a 48% reduction in teen boys.
The HPV vaccine has been available for over 10 years and in 115 countries. A number of recent studies have proven it to be safe and effective.
More than 100 million doses of the vaccine have been given in the United States and more than 270 million worldwide, and no pattern showing that it caused any dangerous or lethal outcomes has been found, according to the National Cancer Institute and the CDC.
Girls who get the HPV vaccine do have a higher risk of fainting than with some other shots, according to the C.D.C. It suggests that the vaccine be given while the recipient is sitting or lying down, and that he or she be watched for 15 minutes afterward.
In fact, it was found to be so safe and effective that the CDC’s advisory committee decided to recommend the vaccine not just for children ages 11 and up but to also include adults up to the age of 45.
Fewer Abnormal PAPs
Researchers are reporting that abnormal Pap smears were reduced by 50%.
It also showed that HPV infection with 2 of the most deadly strains dropped by 83% for girls ages 13-19 and still dropped by 66% for women age 20-24.
The study also showed that the vaccine eliminated up to 90% of genital warts.
A Cure for Cancer
These recent results are so encouraging that the World Health Organization (WHO) has made the “Elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem a flagship project of WHO.”
In wealthier countries, the risk of cervical cancer as a cause of death, has been dramatically reduced by PAP and HPV testing. But unfortunately, in poorer countries, cervical cancer is a leading cause of female mortality, killing about 300,000 women a year.
Since the time from HPV infection to cancer averages about 20 years, and the vaccine has only been available for about 10 years, we’ll have to wait another 10 years or more to see the actual decline in cancer.
But given that HPV is proven to cause all of the cancers listed above, and the 10 year studies are showing major reduction in HPV infection rates and abnormals, it would seem unwise to expose another generation of kids to the cancer risks of HPV.
When it comes to the throat cancer, boys are 3 times more likely than girls to get HPV-caused cancer. Unlike smokers who develop throat cancer, people who develop HPV-positive throat cancer are likely to survive. But, Dr. Ferris adds, treatment can destroy a person’s jawbone and require a feeding tube for life. Just under 12,000 people develop this cancer each year in the U.S. Another 12,000 women develop cervical cancer.
In countries where at least half of the population received the vaccine, there was a significant decrease in the prevalence of HPV-related diseases, even among people who weren’t vaccinated. This is what scientist call “Herd Immunity”.
US Falls Behind
Unfortunately, the CDC has found the vaccine rates to be lower in the US than in many other countries. In particular, may parents are not immunizing boys. They speculate that parents are focusing on the lowered risk of cervical cancer in girls but forgetting about the risk for anal cancer and oral/throat/neck cancers.
Parents have also expressed concerns about the vaccine and its costs, the CDC found.
Pro-abstinence activists argue that vaccinate children for HPV increases teenage promiscuity. Fortunately, studies have proven this not to be the case.
According to Debbie Saslow at the American Cancer Society, the lagging rates are not entirely because parents are against vaccinating their kids but may also be because some doctors are not spending enough time discussing the vaccine with parents.
PAP Testing Critical
HPV vaccination is just one step. Experts remind women that getting regular Pap tests and HPV screening remains crucial to lowering the risk of cervical cancer.
In fact, rates of cervical cancer dropped significantly since screening was introduced in the 1940’s. The number of cervical cancer cases in 2007 was only half the rate of 1973, mainly due to the increased rate of screening.
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