Viruses cause over 20% of cancer cases worldwide — and it should be celebrated that we have vaccines that can prevent some of those cancers. Considering the fear that many people have of cancer, getting these vaccines should be a high priority.
Part of the reason that these cancer vaccines are not a high priority is probably that cancer may not appear until long after the viral infection. If cancer appeared soon after the virus attacks, the cause and effect would be very clear, probably making the vaccine a much higher priority.
This article is going to focus on preventative cancer vaccines. There are cancer vaccines that are being developed as treatments for cancer — for example, there is a new mRNA vaccine that may be useful in treating colorectal cancer.
These “cancer vaccines” train the immune system, much like preventative vaccines, to attack existent cancer but they cannot prevent it. Furthermore, these types of vaccines are individually designed for each patient — in essence, unique antigens on the cancer cell surface are isolated and used to induce the immune system to attack the cancer cells. It’s a therapeutic technique that will still be used in conjunction with surgery and other adjuvant therapies like chemotherapy.
I might discuss this type of “cancer vaccines” more in the future as they become more prevalent, but for this article, I am going to be discussing preventative cancer vaccines.
Gayle DeLong, who wasn’t a scientist, let alone a vaccine scientist, and who wrote an article that tried to claim that the HPV vaccine causes infertility, recently died of breast cancer. Of course, she blamed her breast cancer on her childs’ autism.
In general, I try to forgive people for their mistakes, especially when they are no longer able to respond to criticism. But, I just can’t. Her unscientific rants against the HPV vaccine probably lead to enough people refusing to get the vaccine, and that will lead to additional deaths from HPV-related cancers. That is unforgivable.
Despite that, I don’t wish she had died, especially of breast cancer. No one deserves that fate.
But I wanted to take one last look at her disinformation campaign about the HPV vaccine and some of the things she said in her life. She shouldn’t be remembered as a hero to the anti-vaccine world, but as someone whose words ostensibly have led to cancer and the deaths of too many people
One of the more annoying comments from the pseudoscience crowd is that there is a secret cancer cure and Big Pharma is hiding it in a vault somewhere because they make more money from “treating” cancer than curing it. Now anyone who understands anything about cancer and understands how greedy Big Pharma is would know this is the dumbest conspiracy theory since the claim that NASA faked the moon landing.
I love answering questions on Quora because I thoroughly enjoy taking down people who think you can boost your immune system against COVID-19 or that there is a homeopathic potion that will do something. But the question I probably answer every single day is whether Big Pharma is hiding the secret cancer cure, the one cure to cure them all, from all of humanity.
To save me time in the future, I decided to put it all down in one article for the world to read. The simple answer to the question is no. No, there is no secret cancer cure. And no, Big Pharma isn’t hiding it, because if there were such a cure, the one company that had it could essentially ask for Fort Knox to deliver all the gold to Big Pharma headquarters. It would be the mother of all blockbuster drugs.
So let’s take a look at cancer and the secret cancer cure myth. Get a big bowl of popcorn, because this is going to be a long one.
There is more good news about the HPV vaccine – since being introduced in the UK in 2008, the cervical cancer rate has dropped by 90% according to a recently published peer-reviewed article. Cervical cancer, which kills over 300,000 women a year across the world, is close to being eliminated in countries that recommend the HPV vaccine for women and men.
The HPV vaccine used to be the most hated by anti-vaccine zealots, being surpassed by the COVID-19 vaccine these days, but it is remarkably safe and effective. There are so few ways to prevent cancer, and yet this is one of the best tools that we have in cancer prevention.
Let’s take a look at this new paper, just so we can pile onto the narrative about the overwhelming effectiveness of this vaccine.
I have railed against pseudoscientificcharlatans who claim that they have the easy way to cancer prevention. 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 a while).
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.
A recent case report about a death of a 15-year-old boy from a form of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) after receiving the quadrivalent HPV vaccine has been widely shared by anti-vaccine groups. Of course, I wanted to look into any potential link between ADEM and the HPV vaccine.
Before I start looking at the evidence, I must point out that case reports have little meaning in the hierarchy of vaccine research. To be honest, case reports, even if they’re published in high-quality journals, barely rise above anecdotes as evidence. Why? They are nothing more than a report without being able to establish causality. But most importantly, they represent an n=1 research population, which tells us little. And it doesn’t show correlation, let alone causation.
We’ve also discussed ADEM before – the tragic story of Christopher Bunch whose mother blamed the HPV vaccine for causing his ADEM.
Setting that aside, is there any evidence that shows any link (or lack of a link) between acute disseminated encephalomyelitis and the HPV vaccine? Let’s take a look at this evidence.
Anti-vaxxers love their false authorities, so they invoke Gardasil researcher Diane Harper, MD as the authority of choice with regard to HPV vaccines. Obukhanych is truly a false authority, but Dr. Harper is much more complicated. She actually is an authority for HPV vaccines, but not in the way that the anti-vaccine world would like you to believe.
Because vaccine deniers lack any scientific evidence supporting their unfounded beliefs about vaccines, they tend to rely upon unscientific information like anecdotes, logical fallacies, misinterpretation of data, or false authorities to support their case about the lack of safety of vaccines.
The so-called “lead Gardasil researcher,” Diane Harper, a former “consultant” to Merck and GSK, had some responsibilities in the clinical trials for their HPV vaccines. But the claims about whether Dr. Harper supports or dislikes those vaccines are substantially more complicated than what the anti-vaccine zealots would like to claim about her.
Amusingly, every few months the social media haunts of the anti-vaccine crowd explode with claims that Dr. Diane Harper, lead Gardasil researcher, hates HPV vaccines.
Let’s take a look at the story and see what we find.
One of the numerous tropes about the HPV vaccine was that it causes primary ovarian insufficiency, also known as premature ovarian failure, which happens when a woman’s ovaries stop working normally before she is 40.
Of course, there has been little affirmative evidence of primary ovarian insufficiency being related to the HPV vaccine, aside from anecdotes, but that never stops anti-vaxxers from pushing that false narrative.
Now, we have another large epidemiological study that shows, once again, that there is no link between the HPV vaccine and primary ovarian insufficiency. And, of course, the ancient feathered dinosaur is here to review that article so that you can debunk these claims whenever they show up.
Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.
On 14 August 2018, fourteen-year-old Christopher Bunch died from acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), leaving his loving, devoted family reeling. The family blamed his death on the HPV vaccine that Christopher received, and they were quickly surrounded and courted by anti-vaccine activists.
My heart goes out to Christopher’s family. I followed the case since he was in the hospital, hoping and praying with them for a good outcome, and I feel their heartbreak. I was also deeply impressed by their initial reaction, which was to create a positive legacy for Christopher, making him visible and famous.
I would rather not write about this, which is why this post is so long after the fact. But Christopher’s death is since being used to try and scare people away from HPV vaccines or vaccines generally, putting others at risk of cancer and death. With very little basis: the timing and the epidemiological evidence do not support a link between Christopher’s death and HPV vaccines. Christopher Bunch deserves a better legacy than that.