I keep reading memes and other nonsense that if scientists are so smart why can’t we have a cancer vaccine as fast as we did for COVID-19? It’s not a serious question, it’s actually pejorative – it’s meant to imply that we’ve been looking for years for a cancer vaccine without success, yet we were able to get a COVID-19 vaccine within a few months, so obviously it was rushed.
Fortunately for us on the side of science, this is one of the silliest and most desperate myths being pushed by our favorite anti-vaxxers.
Busting cancer myths is one of my favorite activities – my non-statistical analysis of medical pseudoscience puts cancer slightly above vaccines on the stupidity of the tropes. Combining vaccine nonsense with cancer is right up my bailiwick. Let’s have some tearing apart this trope.
Anyone who follows the cantankerous feathered dinosaur knows that we tend to focus on vaccines, where the anti-vaccine religion focuses on tropes, pseudoscience, misinformation, and outright lies. Cancer myths seem to steal from the anti-vaccine playbook by pushing similar tropes, pseudoscience, misinformation, and lies.
I keep responding to these cancer myths all across the internet, so I thought that it might be useful to list out my favorite ones. No, it would take 50,000 words to debunk all of these cancer myths. For example, the Burzynski Clinic quackery is best handled by a real cancer specialist, David Gorski, MD, who has written well over 100 articles critiquing the Burzynski pseudoscience. So I’m going to stick with my personal favorites.
So, let’s take a look at these cancer myths, and I’ll do my best to debunk them.
As I’ve written before, there are just a handful of ways to reduce your risk of cancer. One of which is to prevent HPV-associated cancers with the HPV vaccine (see Note 1).
Too many people who discuss the HPV vaccine, especially among the anti-vaccine religion, tend to focus on HPV-related cervical cancer. But HPV is linked to several dangerous and deadly cancers, and a new report examines the details of those cancers.
In the nearly 200 articles I have written about the HPV vaccine, I spend as many words discussing HPV vaccine efficacy as I do about adverse events (which are extremely rare, despite the pseudoscientific claims of the anti-vaccine world). I keep reading comments and claims from the anti-vaccine religion that there is no “proof” that the HPV vaccine prevents infections and certainly no “proof” that it prevents cancer.
Well, a new article has been published that that describes how far HPV infection rates have dropped in Australia nine years after the implementation of HPV vaccination. Spoiler alert – the infection rate went way down, even though vaccine coverage is far from 100%.
Let’s take a look at this article, which provides us with more evidence in supporting the use of the HPV vaccine. HPV vaccine efficacy is corroborated by this new data.
Subjectively, one of the wilder claims one can find on social media is that marijuana can cure cancer. Or cannabis prevents cancer. It doesn’t matter what form – smoked, eaten, hemp oil (which is manufactured from the seeds of cannabis plants that don’t contain much THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the active hallucinogenic agent of cannabis) – some advocates for cannabis will try to make the argument that it is some miracle drug for cancer.
I have written nearly 200 articles on the HPV vaccine, many on Gardasil vaccine effectiveness, one of the most important issues about this important cancer-preventing vaccine. But that’s so much data, so I wanted to publish one article that reviewed the largest and best peer-reviewed articles that support the claims of Gardasil vaccine effectiveness.
My goal is to make this article your “go-to” source for the best and clearest evidence that the HPV vaccine not only prevents HPV infections but it also significantly decreases cancer risks.
I know that COVID-19 vaccines are our focus these days, but there is great news about cervical cancer rates in the UK in the decade since the HPV vaccine was first launched in 2008. Cervical pre-cancer incidence is down 88% since the UK’s devolved governments launched a school immunization program in 2008 to vaccinate all girls aged 12-13. They also launched a three-year catch-up program for girls aged 14-18.
These results are amazing and provide further evidence of the effectiveness of this vaccine in reducing cervical cancer rates.
mAs I always do, I will inform readers about HPV and HPV vaccines, then review the article that provides us with these results.
It may appear that scientific skeptics are always criticizing any newly published scientific article that doesn’t fit some imaginary point of view. Personally, I evaluate and critique a lot of “scientific” articles that make the rounds on the pseudoscience websites, such as the recent “canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease” nonsense. Now, a new article has been published that claims that non-ionizing radiation causes miscarriage in a respected journal.
Of course, based on this one article, many news organization and legitimate websites have jumped all over it – “Miscarriage rates triple for women with top radiation exposures” is a typical headline. When I see a new science article get that much play in the press, my skeptical radar goes on full sensitivity mode. I just know there’s something wrong with the original science.
The nearly indisputable evidence of the safety and effectiveness of the HPV vaccine is now supported by powerful evidence that the risk of cervical cancer is greatly reduced by the vaccine. We knew that the vaccine prevented many of the HPV types that were linked to cervical cancer, but it took time for us to observe a concomitant decrease in cases of cervical cancer.