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to re-open the dialogue about the cervical cancer jab?

(95 Posts)
gonetoseeamanaboutadog Sat 05-Mar-16 19:46:16

Read threads about this issue on MN before, but somehow I'm no further along. In light of the tragic death of athlete, Sarah Tait, who died of cervical cancer despite having received the HPV vaccine, the time seems right to ask more questions.

In controlled trials of the cervical cancer vaccine, the evidence suggests that the vaccine actually caused cancerous lesions in girls in the 16-18 age group, even those who had no pre-existing HPV infections.

Now, the NHS considers it more or less impossible to have cervical cancer in the absence of an HPV infection. Even if a smear test shows abnormal cell growth, if there is no HPV infection you're considered 'safe' and no further action is taken. So did these girls get cervical cancer?

There is also research to suggest that while cervical cancer is a common killer in developing countries, this is very rarely the case in developed countries. In fact, the deaths from cervical cancer are several times lower than the rate of adverse reactions (including death) connected with the HPV vaccine. And the adverse reactions can be debilitating, life-limiting and life-long.

Meanwhile, it's claimed that the evidence to show the HPV vaccine actually reduces the cancer rate simply isn't there, especially given the high adverse reactions. There is a school of thought claiming that this vaccine is being routinely administered without properly observing the patient's right to make an informed choice; we are trusting the NHS that the risk of adverse reactions is as tiny as it usually is for vaccines, but this may not actually be the case.

This is all I know. One day, although not soon, I'll have to make this decision with my DD. At the moment, I'm decidedly on the fence.

dementedpixie Sat 05-Mar-16 19:56:02

Where are you getting that info from? Is it from reputable sources and not mercola or some other quack?

gonetoseeamanaboutadog Sat 05-Mar-16 19:58:17

Not sure how to do a link but here:

gonetoseeamanaboutadog Sat 05-Mar-16 20:03:08

Published in a journal headed up by a research professor in Finland -a qualified doctor who moved into research and is attached to the University of Helsinki.

I think we can say it's a professional publication at least.

Wolpertinger Sat 05-Mar-16 20:21:58

Can only read the abstract on that but initial thoughts are:

It's published in 2011. There will be more up to date info by now.
It doesn't mention anything about the vaccine causing cancer. You must have got that elsewhere.

And most importantly a google of the lead author reveals him an anti-vaccine campaigner publishing studies of highly dubious quality. See this article for instance - he's had papers withdrawn by journals because the science was proven to be dodgy:

IThinkIMadeYouUpInsideMyHead Sat 05-Mar-16 20:30:23

And Andrew Wakefield was a "qualified doctor" until he falsified his research. This made me so cross I actually de-lurked.

HPV not only causes cervical cancer WHO, it is also strongly implicated in oropharyngeal cancers (i.e. those affecting the mouth and throat) (info here) as well as cancers of the penis, anus, vagina and vulva.

The rate of adverse reactions is actually very low, and in fact many of the reported "reactions" occur at exactly the same rate as in the non-vaccinated populated. Correlation does not equal causation.

Cervical cancer deaths occur at a lower rate in developed countries because we screen and treat patients. Because of the HPV vaccine, many, many men and women will never develop cancer and will therefore not need to be treated nor will they die of HPV-related cancers.

The real debate should be centred around why we are currently only vaccinating girls. Not only will I be vaccinating my DD, but I will be paying privately to have my DS vaccinated.

thelonggame Sat 05-Mar-16 20:42:07

The lifetime risk of developing cervical cancer is around 1 in 135 for women, in 2012 in the UK.
The mortality rate from cervical cancer is just over 2 women per 100,000 in the UK.
These from the Office for National Statistics.
Where is the statistics for death rates from the HPV vacination? I don't believe that there have been any proven - even from the 80 million plus vacinations given in the USA between 2006 and 2015.
Don't forget that Andrew Wakefield was a respected researcher published in the lancet and his fraud singlehandedly caused panic for years over MMR vacinations.
Do your research and look for verifiable facts before makig the decision = but what you are quoting sounds as scaremongering rubbish as Wakefieds papers.
Both my teeneged daughters had the vacination

Wolpertinger Sat 05-Mar-16 20:45:59

OK, had dinner so can google a bit more. The Annals of Medicine appears to be respectable but is very much not the The Annals of Internal Medicine which is a very serious mega-journal. It seems to be something that sounds cheekily like it and is mainly full of articles by Finnish researchers on random topics plus stuff that couldn't get published elsewhere.

Lucija Tomljenovic and Christopher Shaw, the authors of the paper, appear to be notorious anti-vaxxers. And yes, they have given interviews to Mercola as well as numerous anti-vax conferences etc Shaw publicizes that he hasn't vaccinated any of his children at allhmm

There's a lengthy take down of their appalling science in the article you link to here:

So no, I wouldn't class any of that as a reputable source.

Patapouf Sat 05-Mar-16 20:49:16

My understanding was that it doesn't prevent all types of cancer causing nasties but it certainly doesn't cause cancer.

I've had the vaccination.

techgirl Sat 05-Mar-16 20:52:23

I have read the full paper as I can get access as a health librarian Just to add to the points above, the authors dismiss the value of the vaccine in developing countries where smear tests are less common on grounds simply of cost. The claim that the vaccine can 'cause' cancer is actually that there can potentially be issues where women are already HPV positive - which would seem the point in giving it young. And all the adverse effects stuff essentially assumes that the relevant UK agency is deliberately downplaying the effects reported to it and that these are probably being underreported. Studies showing low efficacy are given but I can list you a bunch that do the opposite.

OnIlkelyMoorBahtat Sat 05-Mar-16 21:13:58

*"The real debate should be centred around why we are currently only vaccinating girls. *"

Hear hear IThinkIMadeYou, I have never understood this.

gonetoseeamanaboutadog Sat 05-Mar-16 21:20:49

Thanks for these responses. I suspect that some of them are coming to this research with the bias that it's probably codswallop, which makes me suspicious.

'Notorious' anti-vaccer sounds like opposing any vaccination is proof of quackery in itself, which is hardly scientific. Likewise, no one knows if the 'annals of medicine' are cheekily trying to sound like the 'annals of internal medicine' or indeed what other journals they attempted to get these articles published in. No obvious link between Andrew Wakefield and anyone here. And unfortunately, as we've seen in the news this week, most vaccinations are weighed up on grounds of cost.

However, I don't have the kind of knowledge to weigh up these responses given the clear bias. Which is frustrating. I would have liked to see the research article describing these instances of cervical lesions in HPV-free girls, and the counter-arguments. But thanks.

annandale Sat 05-Mar-16 21:27:14

I work in a head and neck cancer unit part of the week. I've had my son vaccinated and am very grateful to have been able to do that. The chances of him developing HPV related head and neck cancer are pretty small but watching these diseases and what they and the treatment do to people every day makes the decision to try to reduce the risk easy. I'm just lucky that we can afford it.

As far as Sarah Tait goes, what a tragedy sad Nobody ever said or thought that HPV vaccination would eliminate cervical cancer completely but how I wish it could.

annandale Sat 05-Mar-16 21:28:39

'Most vaccinations are weighed up on grounds of cost' - no they aren't - they are weighed up on grounds of cost-benefit which is very, very different.

gonetoseeamanaboutadog Sat 05-Mar-16 21:59:08

How is it different annadale?

IThinkIMadeYouUpInsideMyHead Sat 05-Mar-16 21:59:38

I struggled to understand your most recent response, OP, but are you suggesting that the posters who have made the decision to vaccinate, using info from accredited organisations and/or personal experience, are biased?

gonetoseeamanaboutadog Sat 05-Mar-16 22:59:57

No, I'm not Ithink. I was struggling to make the point that some of the views expressed were approaching this issue from a clear viewpoint and this was reflected in the language used. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't more of a 'let's look at this with an open mind' attitude, rather than, 'How can we discredit the research journal?' etc. For instance, the people publishing in the journal mentioned are science professionals with medical backgrounds; they would have been discredited if they hadn't been. But rather than this giving their views more weight, as I feel it should if one were being objective, there was a comment that, well, Andrew Wakefield had also been a medical man so it didn't count for anything. Do you see what I mean? If I ask for informed viewpoints, I want to know that the viewpoints are objective and will analyse any new information with an open mind. Nevertheless i appreciated the input.

gonetoseeamanaboutadog Sat 05-Mar-16 23:00:22

were not approaching the issue from a clear viewpoint.

dumbbelle Sat 05-Mar-16 23:06:06

I am biased. Totally biased.

Towards evidence based practice, and scientific theory. Away from scaremongering shite.

The HPV vaccine is inactivated. By what possible mechanism could it give anyone HPV?

It's much more plausible that anyone who went on to get a post-vaccine HPV related cancer was either one of the unlucky 5% where the vaccine doesn't work (which is why herd immunity is such a good thing), or they were exposed pre vaccine (they wouldn't have had to have had PIV sex to be exposed).

My kids will be vaccinated.

GloGirl Sat 05-Mar-16 23:09:13

Those who have bought the HPV vaccine for their son's, what age and how much?

dumbbelle Sat 05-Mar-16 23:15:10

You want before first contact, so 12 like the girls sounds logical. I would expect a course to be about £400 for prescription, dispensing fee and someone to jab it in. However, it could vary widely.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 05-Mar-16 23:17:14

But where something is published is part of looking at things objectively.

There are hundreds of small journals that are allegedly peer reviewed where it is very easy to get anything published. The fact that it is in a small tandf group publication and not a mainstream journal is probably important.

Read Wolpertinger's links for the sort on analysis that probably should have been done by the peer reviewers. IIRC the 'skepticalraptor' blog link has a link to the larger Europe wide trials about side effects that don't show any evidence of the issues that the Finnish doctors are allegedly finding.

IThinkIMadeYouUpInsideMyHead Sat 05-Mar-16 23:26:25

I suppose I'm a few steps ahead of you, in that I already approached it with an open mind, researched it, and satisfied myself that the preponderance of evidence is in favour of the HPV vaccine. The difference between you and I is that I did this a couple of years ago, so my decision is made.

I also think, mind you, that it is reckless to post links to articles like the one in your earlier post without properly checking the credentials of the author. As I frequently remind my children, any idiot with an internet connection can post content. That doesn't make it true.

You asked about the difference between cost and cost-benefit. It will cost me approx €300 to have DS vaccinated privately, including GP visits (no NHS here). Cancer treatment is expensive and life-changing. In Europe at the moment, 60,000 women are diagnosed every year with invasive cervical cancer and 30,000 women die from the disease. Treatment cost tens of thousands of pounds per patient.

Almost every sexually active adult will contract HPV in their life, but with vaccination, they will not go on to develop cancerous cells. (This is why we're vaccinating adolescents before they become sexually active, BTW) And the figures are only operating off cervical cancer, not the other cancers I mentioned that are also HPV-linked.

MsWazowski Sat 05-Mar-16 23:31:46

OP, HPV has been proven to be a cause of cervical cancer, even a cursory google search will bring up numerous peer-reviewed scientific papers that state this. I'm not aware of any that even slightly suggest that the vaccine causes cancer, surely it would have been withdrawn if that was the case.

Have you got other reasons for not giving your daughter the vaccine? I'm sure that if you explain the reasons to her, as I did to mine, she will make up her own mind.

FoggyMorn Sat 05-Mar-16 23:33:43

Glow girl, we've had our 3 teenage sons vaccinated, each course of 3 jabs cost about £350, over about 8 months.

They were 16-18 at the time, and would have been done a bit earlier than that, but we had several months of requests between our GP and our local NHS about the possibly of the vaccine being available to them via the NHS rather than privately. Our GP believes it should be offered to all boys.

My (dr) DH has seen all too often the devastating cancers caused to both males and females by HPV infections.

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