Her appalling article tried to convince the reader that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine caused a decrease in their fertility. If this were a real article, I’d be appalled that it got published, but it was clearly a bad article with bad science, bad methodologies, and bad conclusions.
It failed basic scientific statistical analysis like accounting for confounding data. Furthermore, Gayle DeLong provided no convincing biologically plausible mechanism describing how the HPV vaccine could affect pregnancy rates. And her references were ridiculous – she cited Mark and David Geier, who can charitably be called charlatans who attempted to “treat” autistic children with a horrific and unethical procedure. And she actually mentioned Mark Geier in her acknowledgments.
Furthermore, she ignored the vast body of evidence, published by real scientists, not an expert in international finance, in real journals that the HPV vaccine is demonstrably safe. And in those huge studies, some with millions of patients, there was no detectable difference in fertility rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. This issue only exists in the mind of Gayle DeLong and other anti-vaccine activists.
I’ve read a bunch of anti-vaccine papers in my time, but this one may be one of the worst. All anti-vaccine papers are bad, that’s why they are rarely if ever, published in respected journals.
Anyone who follows or trolls my blog knows one thing – I am a passionate supporter of the HPV anti-cancer vaccine, known as Gardasil. But I didn’t want to ignore the hepatitis B vaccine, which is the “other” anti-cancer vaccine.
Recently, the CDC recommended a new hepatitis B vaccine for adults, and that prompted me to do something I haven’t really done – talk about hepatitis B, liver cancer, and the hepatitis B vaccine. In some respects, hepatitis B is just as an important issue as HPV with respect to preventing cancer.
Remember, despite what you read on pseudoscience website or from anecdotes on the internet, there are really only a few ways to prevent cancer. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink alcohol. Stay out of the sun. Keep a very healthy (read low) weight. And get your HPV and hepatitis B vaccines.
Yes, getting these vaccines will be more useful to avoiding cancer than drinking delicious banana–almond milk-blueberry smoothies. I know, that smoothie probably is more appetizing than getting poked by a sharp needle. It is possible that the smoothie could be part of a healthy diet which could contribute to maintaining a healthy weight. But it won’t directly prevent cancer like the two vaccines.
As I’ve mentioned many times, I think that Gardasil is one of the most hated vaccines that the CDC recommends. But to be honest, if you watch the anti-vaccine religion, you would know that the hepatitis B vaccine is way up there on the list of hatred.
Except it doesn’t. Geier is still not a doctor, being defrocked like his fellow fraud in the anti-vaccine world, Mr. Andrew Wakefield. Geier won a lawsuit that had everything to do with some serious breaches of privacy by the Maryland Board of Physicians, who had a vendetta against Mark Geier (and his son David) for their horrendous treatment protocol to “cure” autistic children. In fact, while the Board stripped Mark Geier of his medical license, they also charged David Geier, who is not a physician of any kind, of practicing medicine without a license.
I cannot repeat this enough – Mark Geier still won’t be practicing medicine, because his medical license is still suspended. This has not changed. And David Geier is still guilty of practicing medicine without a license.
Opponents of legislation to tighten school immunization requirements have been promoting a movie called Trace Amounts to legislators and others. They seem to think this movie proves a link between thimerosal – a mercury-based preservative in vaccines – and autism. It shows, in their view, that our vaccine program is corrupt and harmful through and through, and hence is an argument against vaccine mandates. The movie, however, shows nothing of the sort. There is no new evidence in it, and it simply repeats old and disproven claims.
Update 1. Added more criticism of this paper (since the data is not new) from Emily Willingham.
One of ongoing criticisms of science deniers (and more specifically, of vaccine deniers) is that they make claims without the support of peer reviewed published articles. What the antivaccination movement doesn’t understand (really, it’s about all anti-science groups, but this is about vaccines) is that “peer review” is not by itself some magical bit of information. It’s really the result of the quality of journal, the reputation of the authors, the methods that were used to gather the data, the quality of statistical analysis of the data, and whether the conclusion is supported by the evidence or data.
So it’s not magic, it’s discernible and objective quality.
Moreover, it’s important to know if this research is repeated and used to build stronger hypotheses in subsequent research. A scientific paper, standing by itself, may or may not have any usefulness going forward. I’m sure you’ve read how marijuana cures cancer, but the data supporting that is based on one-off, unrepeated animal studies. This happens all the time. The mainstream news will claim XYZ prevents ABC cancer. Within 12 months, no one talks about it anymore, because the research is never repeated.