Cochrane Nordic kerfuffle – HPV vaccine is still safe and effective

Cochrane Nordic

If you’ve been following the old dinosaur’s articles over the past few weeks,  you’d know the ongoing kerfuffle between the anti-vaccine group located within Cochrane Nordic and the parent Cochrane Collaboration. Cochrane Nordic attacked a well done systematic review, published by Cochrane, of safety and effectiveness of the HPV vaccine without merit.

In case you are unfamiliar with the organization, Cochrane Collaboration is a critically important source of evidence-based medicine and a useful tool in providing analytical evidence that can debunk pseudoscientific beliefs. Cochrane’s goal is to organize research data and publications in a logical way that helps physicians and researchers make appropriate decisions about a proposed new therapy, medication or clinical idea.

According to Cochrane, their mission is:

…to provide accessible, credible information to support informed decision-making has never been more important or useful for improving global health. In the Internet age, people have much greater access to health information, but little way of knowing whether that information is accurate and unbiased. We do not accept commercial or conflicted funding. This is vital for us to generate authoritative and reliable information, working freely, unconstrained by commercial and financial interests.

Mostly, Cochrane produces systematic reviews, which utilizes systematic methods to collect published data, critically analyze research studies, and then synthesize data from numerous published studies in an attempt to eliminate bias and increase the power of the data that includes a larger number of patients than one study alone.

In the hierarchy of biomedical research, systematic reviews rank at the very top. They are, without a doubt, the most powerful pieces of scientific research available in medicine. To be fair, Cochrane is not perfect. They have made egregious errors in systematic reviews of acupuncture quackery in the past. Like all scientific literature, one must examine a systematic review (whether published in Cochrane or any other journal) with a critical eye.

So this whole Cochrane Nordic kerfuffle may seem like an internecine feud of no importance to the world of science. And it would have been, except it has evolved into one of those tropes that the anti-vaccine religion uses to attack the cancer-preventing HPV vaccine.

Let me end this introduction with a simple statement backed by a mountain of science – the HPV vaccine is demonstrably safe and demonstrably effective.

Let’s take a look at this whole Cochrane Nordic nonsense. Continue reading “Cochrane Nordic kerfuffle – HPV vaccine is still safe and effective”

HPV vaccine adverse effects and the European Medicines Agency

HPV vaccine adverse effects

Despite the robust body of evidence supporting HPV vaccine safety and effectiveness, the European Medicines Agency (the European Union’s version of the US FDA) began a review of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines “to further clarify aspects of their safety profile,” although the agency also points out that this review did not “question that the benefits of HPV vaccines outweigh their risks.” In other words, the EMA examined the HPV vaccine adverse effects, real or imagined.

After a few months of investigation, the EMA came to a conclusion about HPV vaccine adverse effects – there were no major ones. Let’s take a look at this story.
Continue reading “HPV vaccine adverse effects and the European Medicines Agency”

Cochrane HPV vaccine systematic review – responses to anti-vax criticism

Cochrane HPV vaccine systematic review

In May 2018, I wrote an article about a Cochrane HPV vaccine systematic review that provided solid evidence that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was safe and effective. I considered the review to be one of the seminal pieces that support the use of the cancer-preventing vaccine. Moreover, most scientists in the biomedical field consider Cochrane systematic reviews (see Note 1) as near the pinnacle of the hierarchy of biomedical research.

Then, in early August 2018, several anti-vaccine, and more particularly vehement anti-HPV vaccine, “researchers” at Cochrane Nordic, a branch of the Cochrane Collaboration, went on the attack against the HPV vaccine. They published a paper in BMJ Evidence Based Medicine that blasted the Cochrane HPV vaccine systematic review.

I thought that this critique was without merit. Moreover, nothing they wrote diminishes the quality of the original Cochrane HPV vaccine systematic review. Once again, that systematic review provided us with solid, high-quality support of the fact that the vaccine is, indeed, safe and effective.

Even though the anti-HPV vaccine group provided some apparently cogent criticisms, it was clear that they had an agenda. Well, there has been more backlash against the anti-vaccine “researchers” in a long post by a scientist who studies and analyzes systematic reviews. And Cochrane itself responded to the criticism. Let’s take a look.  Continue reading “Cochrane HPV vaccine systematic review – responses to anti-vax criticism”

43,000 HPV-associated cancers annually – HPV vaccine can prevent most

HPV-associated cancers

As I’ve written before, there are just a handful of ways to reduce your risk of cancer. Don’t smoke. Stay out of the sun. Keep a healthy weight. Don’t drink alcohol. And get vaccinated with the HPV vaccine to prevent HPV-associated cancers (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.  Continue reading “43,000 HPV-associated cancers annually – HPV vaccine can prevent most”

Primary ovarian insufficiency unrelated to HPV vaccine – anti-vaxxers will move goalposts

primary ovarian insufficiency

Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), previously known as premature ovarian failure, is one of those tropes pushed by the anti-vaccine religion – HPV vaccines cause POF. Although there is no robust epidemiological or clinical evidence of a link between the vaccine and primary ovarian insufficiency, the myth persists.

The overall safety of the HPV vaccine has been shown over and over again in multiple huge epidemiological studies published in top-tier, peer-reviewed journals. And in those studies, which include millions of patients, there have been no safety signals regarding primary ovarian insufficiency. Yet, the myth persists.

We’ve got a new large study, published in a top-ranked journal, that, once again, refutes this myth. Let’s take a look. Continue reading “Primary ovarian insufficiency unrelated to HPV vaccine – anti-vaxxers will move goalposts”

Gardasil effectiveness – yes, HPV vaccine does protect you against cancer

Gardasil effectiveness

Although I have no poll numbers sitting in front of me, and certainly no scientific peer-reviewed research, I just have a feeling that if you scratch the surface of an anti-vaccine activist, you will find that if they could hate one vaccine, it would be Gardasil. And one of the arguments will be all about Gardasil effectiveness – they claim it doesn’t actually prevent cancer.

When you couple their false claims about the dangers of the vaccine with the claims about the lack of Gardasil effectiveness, you’d probably agree with the anti-vaccine crowd. Despite these false claims, HPV vaccine uptake has slowly grown in the US and other countries.

I’ve written nearly 200 articles about the HPV cancer-preventing vaccine, but most of those are focused on debunking myths and confirming the safety of the vaccine. I’m going to focus on a quick primer about Gardasil effectiveness in preventing cancer. Stay tuned for some interesting science. Continue reading “Gardasil effectiveness – yes, HPV vaccine does protect you against cancer”

Cervical cancer rate declines after introduction of HPV vaccine – new evidence

cervical cancer rate

One of the misinformed tropes of the anti-vaccine world is that there is no evidence that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine actually reduces cancer rates. Given that the vaccine was only introduced in the last 10 years, it would take time for researchers to study this issue. But now, we have more evidence that the cervical cancer rate declined after the introduction of the HPV vaccine in the USA.

We have robust evidence that the HPV vaccine actually stops HPV infections, which are linked to several types of cancer. Over the past few years, a number of published articles have provided us with powerful evidence that the HPV vaccine is significantly reducing the cervical cancer rate.

Although there is a myth that the HPV vaccine is just to prevent cervical cancer, I expect, over the next few years, there will be new research that shows reductions in other cancers, in both women and men, as a result of the introduction of the vaccine. Moreover, the effect of the vaccine on males may take longer since the vaccine was recommended for males only a few years after it was introduced.

This year, a solid systematic review, the most powerful research in the hierarchy of biomedical science, along with other studies, have been published that provide strong evidence that the HPV vaccine reduces the cervical cancer rate. Now we have a new study to add to the body of science supporting the effectiveness in preventing cancers of the HPV vaccine. Continue reading “Cervical cancer rate declines after introduction of HPV vaccine – new evidence”

HPV vaccine systematic review – anti-vaxxers and Cochrane

HPV vaccine systematic review

Back in May 2018, I wrote an analysis of a new HPV vaccine systematic review that clearly showed that not only was the HPV vaccine very safe, but it was also effective in significantly reducing the risks of cervical cancer. This was powerful and robust evidence that the HPV vaccine is one of the best tools in reducing HPV-related cancers. And that the vaccine is extremely safe, possibly the safest of all the very safe vaccines on the market.

For those who aren’t science nerds like me, you should know systematic reviews are at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of biomedical research. These type of reviews are one of the foundations of science-based medicine (SBM).

The idea of SBM is …to answer the question “what works?” we must give more importance to our cumulative scientific knowledge from all relevant disciplines.

Now I’ve said that systematic reviews are not perfect. For example, the Cochrane Database is considered one of the premier organizations that perform systematic and meta-reviews in the biomedical sciences. If I am looking to determine if there is evidence supporting a medical claim, I look there first. As a scientist, I don’t take their conclusions at face value – for example, they have made egregious errors in systematic reviews of acupuncture quackery in the past. Like all scientific literature, one must examine a systematic review (whether published in Cochrane or any other journal) with a critical eye. Is there bias in including or excluding data? Do they overstate the conclusion? Do they rely upon unusual or bad statistical analyses?

Recently, one Cochrane group has attacked the aforementioned HPV vaccine systematic review, written by another Cochrane group. Time to take a look at that. Continue reading “HPV vaccine systematic review – anti-vaxxers and Cochrane”

Japan banned Gardasil – another ridiculous anti-vaccine myth

Japan Banned Gardasil

One of the most popular zombie memes and tropes of the anti-vaccine movement is that Japan banned Gardasil, the HPV vaccine. And like most of those zombie memes and tropes, the facts are a lot different than the anti-vaccine claims. Per usual.

Although I don’t quite understand the reasoning, the anti-vaccine religion absolutely hates Gardasil, possibly more than any other vaccine. These zealots maintain that the HPV vaccines cause all kinds of harm to teens and young adults. Yet, 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.

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 banned Gardasil. Let’s examine this fable with a critical and skeptical eye.

Spoiler alert – Japan did no such thing.

Continue reading “Japan banned Gardasil – another ridiculous anti-vaccine myth”

Peter Doshi, anti-vaccine false authority, back again to push fake science

Peter Doshi

The bloviating Peter Doshi, who loves all things anti-vaccine, filed a lawsuit against Health Canada, essentially, the Ministry of Health for the country and the ministry that regulates medications and vaccines for Canada, to retrieve all of the clinical trial data for HPV vaccines that was used to get approval for the vaccines in the country (see Note 1). He recently won that lawsuit, and, unless Health Canada appeals the ruling, so we can assume he will receive mountains of data to “analyze.”

According to an article in the CBC, the ruling gives Doshi access to clinical trial data submitted to Health Canada by the manufacturers of HPV vaccines, Gardasil, Gardasil9, and Cervarix, and of anti-viral flu medications. Doshi wants to do a “systematic review” of the findings, although I don’t think that’s what a systematic review is, we’ll discuss that below. Health Canada argued that the data was confidential, and they would only hand over the data if he signed a non-disclosure agreement. Doshi refused, and he prevailed in the lawsuit.

You may have read all of this and wondered who is this Peter Doshi and why do I dislike him so. Well, most of you know of Doshi. And then you wonder why I care at all that he gets this data. I actually don’t care, but I should talk about it anyway.

So, let’s talk about the false authority, Peter Doshi, and why it matters or not that he gets this data. Spoiler alert – it doesn’t matter, but we should be prepared. Continue reading “Peter Doshi, anti-vaccine false authority, back again to push fake science”