Genevieve Rail – “lead developer” of HPV vaccines opposes it

Genevieve Rail

Here we go again. We recently wrote about Diane Harper, another “lead developer” of the HPV vaccines, who has a rather complicated view on HPV vaccines. She makes disparaging remarks about the vaccine, yet her peer reviewed publications are generally favorable to the HPV vaccine. Genevieve Rail, a kinesiology researcher at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada is the next one being pushed by anti-vaccine activists.

Outrageous claims are made about Genevieve Rail’s expertise with HPV vaccines, like Gardasil. And she helps with the claims by making outlandish comments about the vaccine:

“I’m sort of raising a red flag, out of respect for what I’ve found in my own study, and for the despair of parents who had totally perfect 12-year-olds who are now in their beds, too tired to go to school. Yes, we’re going against the grain, and we are going against those who are believed, i.e. doctors and nurses and people in public health.”

So here we go again, another darling of the anti-vaccine world. Time to look into who Genevieve Rail is. And does she have any standing in the scientific knowledge about the HPV vaccine. Continue reading “Genevieve Rail – “lead developer” of HPV vaccines opposes it”

Import Canadian drugs – another half-baked idea that won’t work

Import Canadian drugs

That old Senate gadfly, Bernie Sanders, tried to win points as the self-proclaimed leader of the Democratic party by proposing a naive and impractical amendment to the Senate health care law to allow Americans to import Canadian drugs. The amendment specifically stated that it would “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to lower prescription drug prices for Americans by importing drugs from Canada.”

The Amendment failed but not in the way you could imagine. Actually, 12 Republican Senators supported it, which in this environment of politics is nearly a miracle. You’d think that it would have passed, but it didn’t. Thirteen Democrats voted against the Amendment, which caused it to fail.

The liberal internet decided to come down hard on Senator Cory Booker of NJ, because just a day before he had the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the nomination of the backwards Jefferey Sessions for Attorney General, so how dare the perfect liberal not be perfect on everything. Senator Booker voted against the amendment for good reasons, though the crazy liberal media is fairly angry at him. And of course, the meme-makers had to pull out the old Big Pharma Shill Gambit, accusing all thirteen Democrats of being pawns of Big Pharma.

To be fair to Senator Booker, his office issued a statement to the media after the vote. It said he supports the importation of prescription drugs but that “any plan to allow the importation of prescription medications should also include consumer protections that ensure foreign drugs meet American safety standards. I opposed an amendment put forward last night that didn’t meet this test.”

In other words Sen. Booker and others are saying that, before we import Canadian drugs, let’s make sure they are safe. Yes, Canada’s drug distribution is fairly safe, but it’s not perfect. There are a lot of issues of safety that should be considered (and Sanders did not, because I’m beginning to be convinced his analytical skills are weak). But there’s a bigger concern – would Canada allow this to happen, and why would they? And that is the concern that Sanders failed to acknowledge.

Let me be absolutely clear. The USA needs some sort of drug pricing regulation, although I doubt it will happen under the Trump administration for lots of reasons.

Setting aside the positives and negatives of this amendment, let’s take a look at whether we can or should import Canadian drugs. Continue reading “Import Canadian drugs – another half-baked idea that won’t work”

Antivaccine hate speech – Canadians ought to be insulted

antivaccine hate speech on Paul Offit

The antivaccine hate speech is a fundamental strategy of their vaccine denialism. I’ve spoken about it before, but the vitriolic attacks on Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a frequent contributor here and a renowned expert on vaccines and law, any time she speaks about vaccines has moved into the surreal.

Although I lack no statistics per se, I’d say that the anti-vaccine hate speech has focused on a few individuals – Professor Reiss, Dr. Paul Offit, Brian Deer, and in a group just slightly below, important skeptics like Dr. David Gorski and some chap named Orac.

Just as an aside, there used to be an amusing trend on Wikipedia whereby pseudoscience-pushing editors would accuse various editors of being the real Dr. Gorski. One of my sockpuppets was accused of being that, which made me laugh. I am not, nor have I ever been, David Gorski. Though I admit my ego is gratified to be thrown into the same conspiracy theories with an esteemed researcher and physician, even if it’s proposed by tinfoil hat wearing lunatics.

But the crazies have become, if this is possible, crazier. Stay tuned. Continue reading “Antivaccine hate speech – Canadians ought to be insulted”

HPV vaccine prevents cancer in men – good news

The HPV vaccine prevents cancer – this is not surprising information, because the wealth of evidence supporting the safety and effectiveness of the HPV vaccine is approaching unassailable. Of course, many people make claims about various cures for and prevention of cancer on the internet, but seriously there are just a handful of ways to prevent cancer. And one of them is getting the HPV vaccine.

Most of the early data was in reduction of cancer rates, especially for cervical cancer, in women. Part of this bias was because the HPV vaccine was originally just indicated for girls and young women. But more recently, the vaccine was approved in most areas of the world to be used with boys and young men.

However, a new study is out that gives us more evidence that the vaccine will prevent cancer in men. And that’s more good news if you’re looking for an effective way to prevent some cancers.

Continue reading “HPV vaccine prevents cancer in men – good news”

Gardasil prevents cancer – more evidence

There are lots of quacks out on the internet that make all kinds of nonsense claims about how to prevent cancer. Eat blueberries. Eat kale. Eat GMO-free, organic blueberry kale soy sherbet.

I’ll bet there are thousands of claims made by charlatans to prevent cancer. But really, there are just a handful of ways to actually prevent cancer. Avoid tobacco smoke. Avoid the sun. Keep a healthy low weight. Avoid alcohol.

And get the HPV vaccine, known as Gardasil. Yes, Gardasil prevents cancer (actually, there are two, the other being the hepatitis B vaccine, but we’ll get to that in another article).

Now, there is even more evidence, from a huge research study, that supports the fact that Gardasil prevents cancer in young women.

Continue reading “Gardasil prevents cancer – more evidence”

Gardasil prevents cancer–does not lead to risky sexual activity

hpv-vaccine-cancer-CDCThere are really few ways to keep your children from contracting cancer. Make sure they don’t smoke. Keep them out of the sun. Watch their weight and maintain it at healthy levels. Don’t let them near radiation.

And vaccinate them against human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes over 5% of the cancers world wide. Gardasil, which is now a more powerful anti-cancer vaccine, is available throughout most of the world and is indicated for use in girls and boys to prevent a variety of dangerous and disfiguring cancers. Lots of people think there are magical supplements and foods that prevent cancer, but there’s little or no science that supports it. If you want a magical prevention, there’s nothing better than getting Gardasil (known as Silgard in some parts of the world).

Parents who wouldn’t be considered to be antivaccination are frequently reluctant or even solidly negative to giving their children the HPV vaccine. Admittedly, some of the reluctance about the vaccine is based on some misinformation and outright myths about the safety of the vaccine. Without a doubt the HPV vaccine is extremely safe as shown in several huge epidemiological studies of young men and women who have received the vaccine. And we know that the vaccine prevents HPV infections. Continue reading “Gardasil prevents cancer–does not lead to risky sexual activity”

About that tryptophan and turkey making you sleepy–not so fast

turkey-dinnerA tiny handful of countries, most notably the US and Canada, celebrate a holiday called Thanksgiving. In the USA, the holiday is held on the fourth Thursday in November and more or less starts the so called holiday season which ends with New Year. In most of Canada (excluding the Atlantic provinces), the holiday is held on the second Monday in October.

For trivia purposes only, the other places that celebrate a similar Thanksgiving are Liberia (which is populated by descendants of freed slaves who returned to Africa from the US), Grenada (a small English-speaking island in the Caribbean), Puerto Rico (a Spanish-speaking territory of the USA), and Norfolk Island Australia. Australia?

Generally, the holiday celebrates white English settlers arriving in North America. The tales usually include some peaceful sharing of food between the white settlers and native Americans (a nice myth without much actual historical support) prior to the first winter. Canada’s back story on Thanksgiving is much more complicated, including ships getting stuck in ice and other legends.

In both Canada and the USA, the celebration includes tons of food (per person) including a roast (usually) turkey. Other foods may include mashed potatoes, yams (sweet potatoes), other meats, pies, corn, stuffing, and more food. It is a high calorie meal of epic portions!

There’s a legend that eating this meal, specifically the turkey, fills your body with tryptophan, and you fall asleep.

Nice story, but the science of eating, sleeping and turkeys doesn’t support this myth. Not even close. Continue reading “About that tryptophan and turkey making you sleepy–not so fast”

Worldwide vaccine uptake-2014

vaccines-saves-live-cloud

I make it a point to update this blog with the most current CDC analysis of vaccine uptake in the USA for kindergarten children (usually around 5 years old). Generally, the numbers have stayed stable, at around 95% vaccinated, although there is high variance from state to state, and locality to locality. The weakness in the vaccination uptake in the USA is that some areas may approach 100% vaccinated, but then other areas may be 50%, which makes those areas with low vaccine uptake susceptible to a quick spread of diseases that are not endemic to the USA (such as measles, polio, and others) through that unvaccinated population.

Given the 95% vaccine uptake rate, it begs the questions of why I push so hard for vaccination–because I want to protect the lives of children, and those 5% who aren’t vaccinated are at risk of serious disease and even death. And vaccines are the safest way to protect a child–protect them from death.

Nearly 55% of the readers of this blog are not American (a couple of years ago,this blog got a regular reader from Iran, which meant that all countries were represented amongst this blog’s readers). I have been accused of being a bit American-centric, but at the same time, I was also curious about vaccine uptake worldwide.  Continue reading “Worldwide vaccine uptake-2014”

Rising rates of HPV-related cancer–Gardasil time for boys and girls

hpv-cell-changes-cancerCurrently in the United States, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that preteen girls and boys aged 11 or 12 are vaccinated against HPV. The immunization is also recommended for teenage girls and young women up to the age of 26 who did not receive it when they were younger, and teenage boys and young men up to the age of 21.

As I reported recently, the HPV vaccine uptake has not been as a high as many would like in the US.  A recent retrospective epidemiological study of HPV cancers in Alberta, Canada, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal OPEN, seemed to indicate that HPV related cancers have increased substantially in the study years from 1975 to 2009, prior to the widespread use of the HPV vaccine in Canada. This is another indicator that increasing the rate of HPV vaccination is important. Continue reading “Rising rates of HPV-related cancer–Gardasil time for boys and girls”

Waterloo, Ontario deals with unvaccinated students

The Waterloo Region (an area of southern Ontario, Canada) health department is responsible for the enforcement of a new law (pdf) that requires parents to provide immunization records for their children by 7 May 2013. And according to the CBC, over 1700 high school students received suspensions notices, hand delivered by school principles, this week unless their vaccination records are updated by 7 May.

Of course, the department of health allows medical exemptions for vaccinations, along with the unconscionable religious and personal exemptions to getting children vaccinated. Can’t win them all, but at least this part of Canada is attempting to deal with unvaccinated students by making them provide the records. 

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