Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Leah Vukmir still wrong on preventing prevention of cancer.

Hi folks,

In the comment below -- let's bump this up to the main level -- an anonymous commenter noted:
Estimates place the number of women who contract HPV at about 70%. Most women's immune systems defeat and that is the end of it.

An important note - the vaccine only attacks 4 of the several hundred HP viruses.

As much as I usually trust anonymous posters, let's check in with the CDC.
"The vaccine, Gardasil®, protects against four HPV types, which together cause 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts." [here's the link]
So I guess Anonymous right -- it "only attacks" the 4 that cause 70% of all cervical cancers and 90% of all genital warts.

And while I was visiting the CDC site I stumbled on the rest of the relevant info:
"Because the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV, it will not prevent all cases of cervical cancer or genital warts. About 30% of cervical cancers will not be prevented by the vaccine, so it will be important for women to continue getting screened for cervical cancer (regular Pap tests). Also, the vaccine does not prevent about 10% of genital warts—nor will it prevent other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). So it will still be important for sexually active adults to reduce exposure to HPV and other STIs." [here's the link]

Um, a vaccine that could save 70% of future cervical cancer victims seems like a reasonable percentage to me. Here's a little more from the CDC:
How common is HPV?

At least 50% of sexually active people will get HPV at some time in their lives. Every year in the United States (U.S.), about 6.2 million people get HPV. HPV is most common in young women and men who are in their late teens and early 20s.

Anyone who has ever had genital contact with another person can get HPV. Both men and women can get it – and pass it on to their sex partners- without even realizing it.

How common is cervical cancer in the U.S.? How many women die from it?
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2006, over 9,700 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3,700 women will die from this cancer in the U.S. [and the links]

It is possible, of course, that our anonymous commentator is not sexually active and therefore not at risk.

But think about this: in 1980, smallpox was declared eradicated world wide. Now we're vaccinating against it again because of the potential of terrorists using the bug as a weapon. The likelihood of your getting small pox -- or most of the other diseases we vaccinate for on a regular basis -- is much lower than the 50% likelihood of contracting HPV and putting yourself at risk for cancer.

Now you could always argue that the CDC is untrustworthy but, um, why would you do that?


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