Monday, January 07, 2008

MAY help guard against

"The groundbreaking vaccine that prevents cervical cancer..."
The first sentence of an AP article reprinted by the Tennessean in this morning's edition is wrong. Gardasil, the vaccine that has caused so much controversy hasn't been proven to prevent cancer. From Gardasil's online FAQ [emphasis added]:
"GARDASIL is the only vaccine that may help guard against diseases caused by HPV Types 16 and 18, which cause 70% of cervical cancer cases, and HPV Types 6 and 11, which cause 90% of genital warts cases. (snip) GARDASIL may not fully protect everyone and does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so it is important to continue regular cervical cancer screenings."
This is a loooong way from 'that prevents cervical cancer'. It may prevent two specific HPVs, which might turn into cancer. If Mike Stobbe, the AP medical reporter, actually wrote that lede...he should have known better. It's a dangerously misleading opening sentence.

Further, since I have your attention:
Infectious disease specialists and cancer pathologists say the incubation period for HPV becoming cancer is 10 to 15 years -- meaning the average cervical cancer patient, who is 47, contracted the virus in her 30s and would not be protected by Gardasil taken as a teen.
"However, only a few will get an infection that stays and won't go away, and only a portion of those will get a precancerous lesion. At that point, only a few will eventually develop cervical cancer," [Dr. Mona Saraiya, a medical epidemiologist in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control at the CDC] said.

Fewer than one-hundredth of 1 percent of the 108 million U.S. women older than 18 (0.009 percent) get cervical cancer and even fewer die from it. There were an estimated 9,700 new cervical cancer cases and 3,700 fatalities in 2006, according to the American Cancer Society.

But the fact that very few U.S. women are affected by cervical cancer, statistically speaking, hasn't stopped the rush by lawmakers to push mandatory HPV vaccines for school girls.

--Washington Times February 21, 2007 "Cancer-virus vaccine targets wrong age group"
Or medical reporters from sloppy reporting or newspapers across the county from taking 5 minutes to verify the article's accuracy. You know, accurate reporting 'may help guard against' loss of subscribers.

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