The debate about the safety and efficacy of vaccinating against the HPV virus rolls on, with the vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix being recommended by the medical community in many countries, and being resisted by a growing number of parents wary about the wellbeing of their teenage and prepubescent children.
Fewer people are willing to take the word of the medical experts these days. What's needed is more clear, unslanted information so that people can make informed decisions for themselves.
The CDC website reported that about 79 million Americans have HPV, with about 14 million being infected per year.
A March 17, 2013 article on Mayoclinic.com said that the number of parents who won't have their teenage girls vaccinated against HPV is continuing to rise. Between 2008 and 2010, the percentage of parents who won't have their daughters vaccinated has risen from 40 percent to 44 percent.
Many of these parents believed that the vaccine isn't necessary, or that it is not appropriate treatment for the age group, or that the side effects are too risky, or that their child isn't sexually active ... or all of the above. Despite reassurances and studies emphasizing the safety and efficacy of the HPV vaccine, many parents don't trust it, and don't trust the sources endorsing the vaccines.
Dr. Christiane Northrup has been a doctor in obstetrics and gynecology for more than a quarter of a century. She has authored several books including "The Wisdom of Menopause," "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom" and "The Secret Pleasures of Menopause" and the recipients of many awards, the most recent of which came from Reader's Digest who put her on "the 100 Most Trusted People in America."
Northrup wrote on Aug. 1, 2013 that it's important to keep in mind that HPV vaccines Cervarix and Gardasil don't prevent cancer of any kind, although they may protect for a time against some strains of HPV.
Cervarix protects against some, but not all, HPV strains that can cause cervical cancer as well as against genital warts. Gardasil targets the four HPV strains which are most common, but that is a small portion of the more than 100 HPV strains we know of.
Northrup is not convinced as to the safety and effectiveness of the HPV vaccines. She said that Gardasil has been seen to cause side effects that are damaging and potentially fatal. She doubts that the benefits are such that it is worth the risks involved.
Northrup said that though pharmaceutical companies say that the vaccines' protection is there for the long term, in reality Cervarix needs a booster shot every seven years, and for Gardasil it is every five years for women and possibly more often for men.
She said that the American death rate from cervical cancer is 3 in 100,000 women. But she said that the serious side effects caused by Gardasil is slightly higher, at 3.4 out of 100,000 immunizations.
Northrup recommends five ways to protect yourself, or your teenage daughter from cervical cancer.
1) Enhance your immune system and make lifestyle changes that will make you healthier overall. Keep vitamin D levels up. Optimal levels of vitamin D cuts the risk for all cancers by 50 percent.
2) Have a Pap smear every three to five years, even if you've had the vaccine. Even after being vaccinated a woman can still get cervical cancer.
3) Use condoms and practice safe sex. Be open with your partner about any health issues.
4) If you have HPV, don't get vaccinated. About 98 percent of infections from HPV are dispatched by a healthy immune system within two years.
5) If you want to have your teen vaccinated, consider doing it when your child is older than the Merck-recommended nine years of age for girls, or eleven years of age for boys.
Are you a parent trying to reach an informed decision on this important issue for the best good of your children? Let the discussions continue.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine. CDC.gov. Retrieved Sept. 24, 2013.
More Parents Say They Won't Vaccinate Daughters Against HPV, Researchers Find. Mayoclinic.org. Retrieved Sept. 23, 2013.
The HPV Vaccine: What You Need to Know Today. Drnorthrup.com. Retrieved Sept. 23, 2013.
Visit Jody's website at http://www.ncubator.ca
Reviewed September 25, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN