Despite the cancer tropes that seem to afflict Facebook and Twitter these days, which includes the laughable “Big Pharma is hiding a secret cancer cure” myth, recently published evidence shows that cancer mortality rates in the USA are dropping. This is great news if you’re wondering if cancer is an end-of-life diagnosis – science-based medicine is attacking and beating cancer with numerous strategies for each cancer. And yes, instead of hiding cancer cures, Big Pharma is providing a lot of the successful medications in treating the disease.
The report, published in the journal Cancer by researchers at the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, provides us with the mostly good news. Cancer mortality rates, which describes the number of cancer deaths per 100,000 people per year, have dropped significantly in the USA. This drop includes most of the common cancers, such as lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate.
Unfortunately, the news isn’t all good – some cancer mortality rates have increased, and I will try to explain why. Let’s take a look at cancer and this new paper. Continue reading “Cancer mortality rates – mostly great news in war on cancer”
Most states in the USA, and many countries across the world have passed legislation that allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Some of this legislation is dependent on various claims, many of which appear to be based on weak or nonexistent scientific evidence. Of all of the purported marijuana medical benefits, only a handful are supported by real evidence.
This review, Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda (pdf, which can be downloaded for free by registering or can be found online here), published by the influential and prestigious National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, examined more than ten thousand scientific studies that involved cannabis and various medical conditions. The value of such a review is that it examines not only the quantity of evidence supporting a claim but also the quality of such evidence. In the end, it gives much more weight to high-quality evidence.
I know many comments will drop on this article that “you haven’t read that incredible study published in Journal of Weed and Cancer Cures” – that misses the point. The National Academies is a highly respected institution, made up of the most respected scientists in the USA. And the committee that created this review is made up of leading public health, cancer, epidemiology, pharmacology, and psychiatry, all fields germane to understanding clinical and basic scientific research into cannabis.
Moreover, a review like this does two things – it gives more weight to well done clinical trials and pre-clinical studies, and it eliminates poorly done and biased studies. This is how science works – examine ALL of the evidence before coming to a conclusion. Pseudoscience, on the other hand, is to have a conclusion, like “weed cures cancer,” and only seeking evidence that supports that preordained conclusion.
Furthermore, and this cannot be stressed enough, this review is not opinion. It is not belief. It is not cherry picking. It is a critical analysis based on thousands of studies published in peer-reviewed journals. This is not published in a pro-cannabis website that cherry picks, misinterprets, and overrates a one-off study in an obscure journal. The report is over 400 pages long – most of you will not read even a few pages, because it is a dense scientific review written by some of the top scientists in the USA. Before you denigrate the study, I would suggest you read it carefully.
To save you time from reading the 400+ page opus, which I did, I divided up the medical evidence from strong to none of the evidence in support of benefits and of risks from smoking cannabis. Not to bury the lede, but there are only three conditions for which there is strong, overwhelming evidence benefits of marijuana. Just three. Continue reading “Marijuana medical benefits – large review finds very few”
The HPV cancer-preventing vaccine, especially Gardasil (or Silgard, depending on market), has been targeted by the anti-vaccine religion more than just about any other vaccine being used these days. So many people tell me that they give their children all the vaccines, but refuse to give them the HPV vaccine based on rumor and innuendo on the internet. This article provides all the posts I’ve written about Gardasil safety and efficacy.
As many of regular readers know, I focus on just a few topics in medicine, with my two favorites being vaccines and cancer – of course, the Gardasil cancer-preventing vaccine combines my two favorite topics. Here’s one thing that has become clear to me – there are no magical cancer prevention schemes. You are not going to prevent any of the 200 different cancers by drinking a banana-kale-quinoa smoothie every day. The best ways to prevent cancer are to quit smoking, stay out of the sun, keep active and thin, get your cancer-preventing vaccines, and following just a few more recommendations.
The benefits of the vaccine are often overlooked as a result of two possible factors – first, there’s a disconnect between personal activities today and cancer that could be diagnosed 20-30 years from now; and second, people think that there are significant dangers from the vaccine which are promulgated by the anti-vaccine religion.
It’s frustrating and difficult to explain Gardasil safety and efficacy as a result of the myths about safety and long-term efficacy of the vaccine. That’s why I have written nearly 200 articles about Gardasil safety and efficacy, along with debunking some ridiculous myths about the cancer-preventing vaccine. This article serves to be a quick source with links to most of those 200 articles.
And if you read nothing else in this review of Gardasil, read the section entitled “Gardasil safety and effectiveness – a quick primer” – that will link you to two quick to read articles that summarize the best evidence in support of the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
Continue reading “Gardasil facts – debunking myths about HPV vaccine safety and efficacy”
One of the enduring myths (there are so many) about the HPV vaccine is that it is linked to one or more autoimmune syndromes, an abnormal immune response to a healthy body part. These claims, pushed by an Israeli physician, Yehuda Shoenfeld, are called “autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA)” and, sometimes, Shoenfeld’s Syndrome.
Of course, ASIA is not accepted by the scientific and medical community (and see this published article), was rejected by the United States vaccine court as a claim for vaccine injury, and should not be accepted by parents deciding whether they should vaccinate their children. Furthermore, the European Medicines Agency, which is the primary regulatory body in the EU for pharmaceuticals, has rejected any link between the HPV vaccine and various autoimmune disorders. The science stands in direct opposition to autoimmune syndromes being caused by any vaccine.
Despite the lack of evidence supporting the existence of autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants, and even more powerful evidence that it doesn’t exist, the anti-vaccine religion still cherry-picks articles to support their preconceived conclusions that the HPV cancer-preventing vaccine is dangerous. Continue reading “Autoimmune syndromes induced by adjuvants – another anti-vaccine myth”
One of the many tropes about HPV vaccine from the anti-vaccine religion is that the vaccine has no effect on any cancer. Recently, I wrote an article that outlined the evidence that supports a link between HPV vaccines and cancer – that is, the vaccine does lower the risk of cancer. After I wrote that article, a new systematic review was published that, indeed, the HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancer.
Many people think that cancer is some sort of on/off switch – in fact, HPV-related cancers may take years or decades to be diagnosed. However, it’s been 8-12 years since the vaccine has been available (depending on the country), so a population of young women (the vaccine was only indicated for women in most countries until a few years ago) is now getting to the age where they may be diagnosed with either cancer or pre-cancerous lesions.
As the population of women (and eventually men) reaches the age where risks of certain cancers are increased, we can use epidemiological studies to determine whether or not there is a difference in cancer risk between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups. Let’s review the systematic review that examined a surprisingly large number of studies that support the fact that the HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancer. Continue reading “HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancer – a systematic review”
The fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) campaign, a disinformation tool used by the anti-vaccine religion for propaganda purposes, against the HPV vaccine would laughable if the lies didn’t put our young people at risk for cancer in the future. We already have circumstantial evidence that the HPV vaccine prevents cancer – but now we’re accumulating robust direct evidence that it can stop HPV-related cancers.
Despite the claims of anti-vaccine pseudoscientists, who spend their time trying to invent false claims about vaccine safety, HPV vaccine safety is nearly settled science, based on dozens of high quality clinical and epidemiological studies. Although the anti-vaccine religion would love you to believe that the vaccine kills their children, the scientific evidence decidedly refutes these assertions.
Anti-vaccine zealots illogically reject any circumstantial evidence that the HPV vaccine prevents cancer. That circumstantial evidence is based on powerful data that the vaccine prevents many strains of HPV infections, and we have similarly powerful data that many cancers are directly related to those same HPV infections – thus, if you stop the infection, it’s logical to accept that the vaccine will stop cancer. At least the logic makes sense to scientists, but apparently logic isn’t a top priority of pseudoscientific vaccine deniers.
Because HPV-related cancers can take years to show up – it’s a myth that cancers have some on-off switch that the causal factor instantly makes cancer appear – direct evidence has been difficult to research on whether HPV vaccines prevent cancer. But the HPV vaccine has been on the market for 10-15 years in most areas of the world, so if our hypothesis is correct, that the HPV vaccine prevents cancer, then maybe we can see a direct reduction in these cancers by now.
Guess what? We do have some of that direct evidence. Continue reading “HPV vaccine prevents cancer despite anti-vaccine fear, uncertainty, doubt”
Sometimes, the people who hate the HPV vaccine dismiss the awful consequences of an HPV infection as if they are unimportant. HPV is linked to several deadly and disfiguring cancers. Maybe you heard the story of a man who received a penis transplant. And it has a lot to do with the HPV vaccine.
Setting aside all of the jokes and uncomfortable thoughts, this procedure could be an important medical procedure for men who have lost their penis through injury or disease. For example, veterans of wars are at grave risk to injuries that cause the loss of their penis. Mines and IEDs in war are particularly damaging in ways that can cause permanent trauma to a soldier’s penis. Having a method to replace it, like a transplant, can be a great way to improve the soldier’s mental health and personal self-image.
However, this story is about a 64-year-old Boston man, Thomas Manning, who had to have his penis surgically removed in 2012 because of HPV-related penile cancer, a rare and devastating disease. In 2016, he had an innovative penis transplant to replace his cancer. Continue reading “Penis transplant – the HPV vaccine is a way to avoid it”
I have railed against pseudoscientific charlatans who claim that they have the easy way to prevent or cure cancer. Generally, these snake oil salesmen try to convince you that they have some miraculous food, supplement, spiritual energy, and on and on, that can either kill cancer in its tracks or keep them from even growing in your body. Of course, none of their claims are actually supported by robust science. On the other hand, real science has 12 evidence-based methods to actually prevent cancer.
But what about those memes that say that supplements prevent cancer? Nope, they don’t. And that’s been shown in study after study after study after study (yeah, I could go on for awhile).
What about avoiding GMO foods because they cause cancer? Again, studies show that GMO foods have no effect on cancers. Oh, one more thing – bananas don’t have tumor necrosis factor, and the yellow fruit can’t prevent or cure cancer (but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t delicious).
Despite the absolute lack of evidence that supplements, kale, bananas, or drinking the pure waters of a glacial fed stream (which may not be an option with climate change), there are only a few things that can be done to manage your overall risk of cancer.
How to prevent cancer has been codified by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) into 12 steps (no, not that debunked one) that are called the European Code Against Cancer.
Let’s look at cancer and how to prevent cancer.
Continue reading “How to prevent cancer in 12 easy steps – vaccines are critically important”
Apparently, the “polio vaccine causes cancer” zombie meme has been reanimated by the antivaccination cult. Lacking evidence for their beliefs, retreading old debunked memes is their standard operating procedure. And once again, I’m seeing it.
The interesting thing about social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Google, Reddit) is that it’s fairly easy to push pseudoscientific beliefs. The first problem is that many people read the headlines, and never the underlying discussion. If it can be said in 200 characters, or a misleading infographic, many individuals will share that across the internet as a “fact”. So, if you see a claim that “Polio vaccines infected 98 million Americans with a cancer virus,” many people will immediately see that an accept it without much criticism.
Of course, this leads to a second problem. To refute anti-vaccine claims take a lot more than 200 characters. The refutation is often complex, nuanced and highly scientific, and may take 2000 words or more to send that claim into orbit. It’s highly emotional to claim a vaccine can cause cancer. On the other hand, to say it is not isn’t emotional–it’s coldly logical. And takes a lot of words.
And the third problem is that is that social media fallacies have multiple lives, so when someone reads one of these memes a year from now, they think “yeah, this is great information”, and pass it along as if it’s the Truth™. Killing zombie anti-vaccine tropes and memes are just as difficult as killing zombies in real life, or at least, on a TV show. Debunking these anti-vaccine fake facts is a full-time job. Sadly, even after a thorough debunking, someone will call us a paid shill, ignore the evidence, and repeat the trope.
I need to create a bot that automatically refutes every repeated trope. In lieu of that, let’s just discuss the myth. And refute it once again.
Continue reading “Polio vaccine causes cancer – a myth pushed by anti-vaccine religion”
I’ve written more than almost 200 articles about the safety and effectiveness of various versions of the HPV vaccine. As a result, I have focused a lot of those 200 articles on Gardasil long-term safety.
There have been huge studies, one that includes over 200,000 patients and another that includes over 1 million patients, that have provided solid and nearly incontrovertible evidence that support the Gardasil long-term safety – nevertheless, the anti-vaccine tropes and memes about the HPV cancer-preventing vaccine persist.
Though it is frustrating that some researchers publish “evidence” from small studies that are poorly designed in an attempt to invent issues with HPV vaccines if you look at the best designed unbiased studies, the facts are clear–Gardasil is safe and effective. It could be one of the safest and most effective vaccines since it was developed and studied in the era of harsh, and mostly unfounded, criticisms of vaccines by certain antivaccine activists.
Continue reading “Another study supports the Gardasil long-term safety”