Gardasil safety and efficacy – debunking the HPV vaccine myths

Gardasil safety and efficacy

There was an article published in Pediatrics that described how educating either teenagers or their parents about HPV vaccinations had little effect on the overall vaccination rate for the vaccine. Essentially, the researchers found that it was a 50:50 probability that any teen would get the vaccine, regardless of their knowledge of HPV and the vaccine itself. Some of the reasons why the HPV vaccine uptake is so low is a result of several myths about Gardasil safety and efficacy.

So I thought about why that Pediatrics study found that education about HPV and Gardasil didn’t move the needle on vaccination uptake. It’s possible that the benefits of the vaccine is overwhelmed by two factors–first, that there’s a disconnect between personal activities today vs. a disease that may or may not show up 20-30 years from now; and second, that the invented concerns about the HPV quadrivalent vaccine, promulgated by the usual suspects in the antivaccination world, makes people think that there is a clear risk from the vaccine which is not balanced by preventing cancer decades from now. It’s frustrating. Continue reading “Gardasil safety and efficacy – debunking the HPV vaccine myths”

HPV vaccine safety – another massive scientific study (UPDATED)

HPV vaccine safety

In a 2013 study of over 1 million girls, the overall HPV vaccine safety for teenage girls was reaffirmed. There appear to be no links between serious adverse events and the HPV vaccines. This is in line with numerous other large size epidemiological studies of HPV vaccines.

Let’s take a look at the HPV vaccine safety that is supported by this trial.
Continue reading “HPV vaccine safety – another massive scientific study (UPDATED)”

HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases – no link in new 2 million patient study

HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases

The link between HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases is one of the enduring myths about Gardasil. It is regularly debunked by scientists in large scale case control studies, but that never appears to be enough to silence the critics.

For example, the so-called autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA) pushed by an Israeli physician, Yehuda Shoenfeld remains a trope that pervades the anti-Gardasil community. Shoenfeld claims that the HPV vaccine is causally linked to various autoimmune syndromes. However, ASIA is not accepted by the scientific and medical community (and see this published article), and was rejected by the United States vaccine court. It should not be used by parents as a reason to reject the HPV vaccine..

Large studies (and this large study) continue to reject links between the HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases. Now, we’re going to take a look at a recently published article that continues to reject any link.

Continue reading “HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases – no link in new 2 million patient study”

Japan bans Gardasil – debunking myths about the HPV vaccine

Japan bans Gardasil

One of the most popular zombie memes and tropes of the anti-vaccination movement is that Japan bans Gardasil – oh noes! Of course, like a lot of the junk information passed along by the anti-vaccine crowd, it’s completely false, unless you’re willing to take anything they say on faith.

There are a couple of consistent trends in the anti-vaccine movement. They claim that vaccines cause autism (disproved with the highest quality of evidence); and they maintain that the HPV vaccines cause all kinds of harm to teens and young adults. And there are literally mountains of data derived from numerous huge epidemiological studies that the Gardasil cancer preventing vaccine is one of the safest vaccines on the market (and that’s a high bar to exceed, given the high safety profiles of all vaccines).

So if you really want to prevent cancer, one of the best ways available to you is getting the HPV vaccine. The idea is so simple, yet is clouded by the myths about HPV vaccines – one of the most popular, of course, is that Japan bans Gardasil. Let’s examine this fable with a critical and skeptical eye.

The tl;dr version – Japan did no such thing.

Continue reading “Japan bans Gardasil – debunking myths about the HPV vaccine”

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”

HPV vaccine side effects – unrelated to chronic fatigue syndrome

HPV vaccine side effects

The list of HPV vaccine side effects is long and, on the surface, very troubling. But study after study, some of them with millions of patients, have found that the vaccine is extremely safe, and the side effects attributed to the vaccine occur at the same rate between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

Now, there is a large new study in Norway that examined another hypothetical side effect that has been claimed to be associated with the HPV vaccine. And what did the study find? No link.

We’re going to examine the new study on potential HPV vaccine side effects, which will tell us more about the safety of the vaccine. Continue reading “HPV vaccine side effects – unrelated to chronic fatigue syndrome”

HPV and prostate cancer – meta-analysis shows link

HPV and prostate cancer

It has been well established that human papilloma virus (HPV) is closely linked to numerous cancers. Recently, evidence has been uncovered that show a link between HPV and prostate cancer. This provides us with more evidence that preventing these infections with the HPV vaccine can lead to a reduction in many types of cancers in both men and women.

 

Continue reading “HPV and prostate cancer – meta-analysis shows link”

Diane Harper, lead Gardasil researcher – what are the facts?

Diane Harper

Because vaccine deniers lack any scientific evidence supporting their unfounded belief system about immunizations, they tend to rely upon unscientific information like anecdotes, logical fallacies, misinterpretation of data, or Italian provincial courts to make their case about the lack of safety of vaccines. One of the latest ones involves a so-called lead Gardasil researcher, Dr. Diane Harper, a former “consultant” to Merck (and GSK, who manufacturers Cervarix, a bivalent HPV vaccine), who apparently had some research role in the clinical trials of the HPV vaccines. But what are the facts?

It’s rather easy to debunk these claims, but because of the nature of the internet, old news is recycled as “brand new,” requiring a whole new round of blog posts to discredit the misinformation. It’s impossible to recall one single instance where a vaccine refuser made a statement about vaccines that was not, in fact, rather quickly debunked. Not one.

The pro-children’s health side, those of us who think that vaccines save lives, have been winning the hearts and minds for awhile, given that still around 95% of children in the USA get all of their immunizations prior to entering kindergarten. But that doesn’t stop the refusers from trying, because various zombie anti-vaccination memes keep reappearing, especially since the successful pro-vaccine bill was signed into law in California, keep infiltrating the internets.

Let’s take a look at the story and see what we find.

Continue reading “Diane Harper, lead Gardasil researcher – what are the facts?”

Gardasil prevents cancer – evidence for oral cancer protection

Gardasil prevents cancer

According to recent studies from the CDC, only about 63% of teen girls and 50% of teen boys have started the HPV vaccination series. The relatively low vaccine uptake, despite the evidence that Gardasil prevents cancer, one of the few ways to actually prevent cancer, is especially frustrating to those of us who are supporters of the vaccine. However, new data that Gardasil prevents cancer may drive acceptance for the vaccine – new research appears to show that the HPV vaccine may protect against head and neck cancers.

Gardasil 9, the most current version of the vaccine, was approved to protect against cervical, vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancers in females along with anal cancers in males – if it is also shown to prevent oropharyngeal cancers (and eventually gets new indications after FDA review), maybe that can increase the lagging HPV vaccination rates.

 

Continue reading “Gardasil prevents cancer – evidence for oral cancer protection”

Autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants – another anti-vaccine myth

autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants

The HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases link is one of the enduring myths about the vaccine, which is regularly debunked by scientists. The so-called autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA) pushed by an Israeli physician, Yehuda Shoenfeld, and is called by some “Schoenfeld’s Syndrome.” He claims that the HPV vaccine are causally linked to various autoimmune syndromes.

However, ASIA is not accepted by the scientific and medical community (and see this published article), was rejected by the United States vaccine court, 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.

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 side still cherry picks articles to support their preconceived conclusions that the HPV cancer preventing vaccine is dangerous.

All about HPV and the vaccine

I’ve written about the HPV cancer prevention vaccine over 100 times – however, this might be your first bit of research into the HPV vaccine (known as Gardasil, Cervarix or Silgard), so I feel it’s important to give the readers a brief overview of the disease. If you’ve read it before, please skip to the next section.

Genital and oral human papillomavirus (HPV) are the most common sexually transmitted infections (STI) in the USA. There are more than 150 strains or subtypes of HPV that can infect humans, although only 40 of these strains are linked to a variety of cancers. HPV is generally transmitted from personal contact during vaginal, anal or oral sex.

Although the early symptoms of HPV infections aren’t serious, those infections are closely linked to many types of cancers in men and women. According to current medical research, here are some of the cancers that are linked to HPV:

These are all dangerous and disfiguring cancers that can be mostly prevented by the HPV cancer vaccine. If you’re a male, and you think that these are mostly female cancers, penile cancer can lead to amputation of your penis. Just think about that guys.

HPV is believed to cause nearly 5% of all new cancers across the world, making it almost as dangerous as tobacco with respect to cancer. According to the CDC, roughly 79 million Americans are infected with HPV–approximately 14 million Americans contract HPV every year. Most individuals don’t even know they have the infection until the onset of cancer. About 27,000 HPV-related cancers are diagnosed in the USA every year.

Let me make this simple. There are only a handful of ways to actually prevent cancer, and drinking a blueberry-kale-protein shake is not one of them. On the other hand, Gardasil-9, the current version of the HPV cancer vaccine, protects teens and young adults from 9 subtypes of cancer-causing HPV, which leads to lower risks of more types of cancer.

So, if you’re looking for an effective and inexpensive way to prevent a few of the 200-250 cancers that afflict humans, Gardasil is one of your best choices. That why I call it the anti-cancer vaccine.

 

New autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants “study”

In a recent study published in the low impact factor journal, Immunologic Research, the authors reviewed, Jara et al., the literature that claims that ASIA is a real issue. To be clear, this is a review article, but it is not a systematic or meta-review, which sits at the top of the hierarchy of medical research.

Basically, Jara et al. reviewed 4479 ASIA cases, from 2011 to 2016, which included 305 “severe” cases, along with 11 deaths. They claim that the severe ASIA cases were related to the HPV cancer preventing vaccine, silicone, flu vaccine or mineral oil injections. The 4479 cases were culled from published articles over that time period.

The authors then conclude:

Efforts should be made to discover the connection between adjuvants, autoimmunity and autoimmune diseases, because there is an increase in cases severe and life-threatening of ASIA.

You might think this is a definitive “proof” that ASIA exists, and it’s caused by vaccines (mostly the HPV vaccine, but also adjuvants and the flu vaccine). To disabuse anyone who would assume this conclusion, let’s critique this study from an unbiased scientific perspective:

  • This was not a systematic review. It did not establish whether any of the articles actually showed evidence of causality between the vaccines/adjuvants and autoimmune diseases. It did not include huge studies that have shown no relationship between the HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases.
  • This study makes absolutely no effort to compare results to a control group, say the general population. ASIA-like symptoms are found at the same (and sometimes higher) rate in the unvaccinated population as the vaccinated one. In other words, ASIA may be a syndrome that’s simply found in individuals irrespective of vaccine status. All of the studies included in this “review” lacked adequate controls that might establish a causal link between vaccines and ASIA.
  • The study relies upon 40 studies only. Worse yet, 19 of those studies were authored or co-authored by Yehuda Shoenfeld, who has a vested interest in “proving” that ASIA exists. These studies seem to indicate a high level of bias of the authors, as if they were trying to find the published research that established a link, rather looking at all of the research to se if there is even a link.
  • Some of the included studies had nothing to do with vaccines. Sixteen of the 40 studies cited had nothing to do with vaccines or adjuvants – most of them were trying to link silicone breast implants to ASIA, not vaccines. It’s possible that the authors were trying to imply that silicone is a vaccine adjuvant, but as far as I can tell, it is not used as such.

This study does not actually provide us with any data to conclude that vaccines are causally related to autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants. At best, it provides us a list of studies that can be cherry picked to ignore the well-designed epidemiological studies that actually establish that there is no link between the HPV vaccine and various autoimmune diseases.

 

The HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases study

I reviewed a study, also published recently, which was a properly designed case-control epidemiological study. According to the study published in the Journal of Autoimmunity, HPV vaccines do not increase the risk of developing autoimmune diseases (ADs). This adds to the body of research, based on methodology that helps us establish correlation and causation, that rejects the hypothesis that the HPV vaccine is related to ASIA.

In this study, the authors evaluated the risk of autoimmune diseases over 6.5 year period after exposure to HPV vaccines (quadrivalent Gardasil and bivalent Cervarix) in adolescent and young adult women using data from a French medical registry, Pharmacoepidemiologic General Research eXtension (PGRx). The PGRx is a surveillance database that helps researchers monitor the occurrence of rare or delayed health events that may be related to the use of medications, including vaccines.

Here are the published results of the study:

  • A total of 478 cases with AD against 1869 matched controls with no AD were included in the case-control study. A large majority of individuals in both the AD and control groups had received the quadrivalent Gardasil vaccine (95.3%). Additionally, over half of the study population had been exposed to at least one other vaccine during the 24 months before inclusion in the study
  • The HPV vaccine uptake rate was lower in the patients with AD than in the controls without AD (10.9% vs 22.5%).
  • Surprisingly, the group receiving an HPV vaccine had a more than 40% lower observed risk of developing AD. A similar lowered risk of central demyelination/multiple sclerosis (CD/MS) and autoimmune thyroiditis (AT) was observed in the HPV vaccine group. The researchers observed a statistically nonsignificant trend for reduced risk of connective tissue disease (CTD) and type 1 diabetes (T1D) after vaccination.
  • No correlation was found between HPV vaccine exposure and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). The relationship between HPV vaccine exposure and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) could not be established since no cases of GBS occurred in individuals who received an HPV vaccine.

The authors concluded:

Exposure to HPV vaccines was not associated with an increased risk of ADs within the time period studied. Results were robust to case definitions and time windows of exposure. Continued active surveillance is needed to confirm this finding for individual ADs.

This data not only show us that there is no link between the HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases, but, in a few cases, seems to indicate that there is a higher risk of these autoimmune diseases in the non-vaccinated group.

 

Conclusion

 

There is robust and overwhelming evidence that HPV vaccines are not related to autoimmune diseases. These are large, well-controlled and well-designed studies, not biased “reviews” of biased research. There is simply no known link between HPV vaccines and autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants.

The HPV vaccines, like Gardasil, help prevent some serious and dangerous cancers. I’m hoping parents begin to understand that there are few if any risks for the vaccine, with the substantial benefit of preventing cancer.

 

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