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For shame! Annals of Medicine publishes hit piece on HPV vaccine

December 30, 2011

When I first saw this paper prairiedogging around anti-vax websites, I just rolled my eyes and figured it had been published in another one of the faux journals out there that looks legit but is really not peer-reviewed and has an impact factor hovering somewhere around absolute zero. But once I got a few moments, I checked out the reference and discovered that the steaming turd of a paper to be discussed in today’s blog was, shamefully, published in Annals of Medicine. I confess that I haven’t read many articles in this journal before, but its alleged impact factor of 5.4 indicates that apparently quite a few other people are reading it. It’s not Lancet-caliber, but it’s a mid-ranked journal and not a total fishwrap…at least not usually.

Papers like this sometimes make me wish that articles, when published, included the names of the reviewers and the editor who nannied the paper through the review process. Because I cannot imagine who reviewed this paper, found it legitimate, and recommended publication. The editorial board of Annals of Medicine should be thoroughly embarrassed.

The paper in question is entitled “Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine policy and evidence-based medicine: Are they at odds?” (1).

The paper kicks off with a bolded header entitled, “Can the currently licensed HPV vaccines prevent cervical cancer?”

The authors admit that HPV vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix are, in fact, extremely effective at preventing HPV 16 and 18 infections and pre-cancerous cervical lesions, also known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). They then go on to imply that the companies that make the vaccines are trying to pull the wool over our eyes by stating that the “testing period employed was too short to evaluate long-term benefits of HPV vaccination.” Well, yeah. As the authors themselves acknowledge, it takes 20-40 years for cervical cancer to develop. The vaccine itself is less than a decade old in terms of gathering data. So how on earth can ANYONE have attained an adequate sample size for examining the actual cervical cancer endpoint? Answer: they can’t have. It’s simply impossible. More disturbing however is the authors’ apparent belief that the HPV-to-CIN-to cancer pathway is hogwash. Because the only way they can insinuate that HPV vaccine won’t prevent cervcial cancer is to ignore this well-understood and well-established pathway to cervical carcinogenesis. If HPV vaccine prevents CIN, then it WILL prevent cervical cancer. But Tomljenovic and Shaw? Pshaw! It appears from the wording in this section that they do not seem to believe the scientific data of the last 50 years regarding HPV causing cervical cancer. But let’s continue. The next bolded section header is:

Gardasil and Cervarix: do the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks?

Again the authors begin by banging on the idea tha HPV vaccine has not been proven to work. Again, this is simply because of the time it takes for cervical cancer to develop, not because of some conspiracy. They then go on to indicate that the risk of serious adverse events from Gardasil is “2.5 times higher” than the risk of death from cervical cancer in the United States. There are several serious reasoning flaws with this approach. The first is that the authors use the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) as their source for adverse event reporting. VAERS is an excellent system in terms of brute-force data collection. However, this system allows for anyone and everyone to report ANYTHING that has happened to them after they received HPV vaccine, from falling down a flight of stairs to bruising at the injection site. The major problem is that these reports may have nothing whatsoever to do with the actual vaccination.

Here is a thought experiment. Imagine that we have the MAERS (milk adverse event reporting system). Everyone has access to the system and can report any adverse event that occurs after drinking milk. We’re going to see reports of odd white moustaches, flatulence, diarrhea, diabetes, myocardial infarction, and autism. Are these things caused by drinking milk or are they coincident to the fact that a large proportion of Americans drink milk every day?  You can see the problem here, reader, and if you like you can read more about the problems of interpreting VAERS in the blog post linked below, by Karen Ernst at Moms Who Vax (2). The problem for Tomljenovic and Shaw is that the CDC has studied these VAERS reports in detail and has observed no unusual clustering of ANY serious adverse events after HPV vaccine.  Thus, the entire “analysis” comparing serious adverse events to cervical cancer deaths collapses in on itself, no matter how much hand-waving about VAERS reports is included. Further, the authors utterly ignore the other sequelae of HPV, such as biopsies, cryo-treatments, and massive anxiety, as I have discussed here previously (3). The next major header is:

Side-effects from HPV vaccines: are they a minor concern?

Here again we have a lot of hand-waving and insinuations. The authors begin to bang away on one of the adjuvants in the vaccine, ASO4, with such lines as, “All of the eight authors of the ASO4 safety study are employees of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the manufacturer of Cervarix”.  It is very interesting that Tomljenovic and Shaw are  attempting to cast aspersions about a study based on the funding source…but more on that below. Anyway, the authors ignore other peer-reviewed studies of ASO4 done by independent laboratories (4), as well as that the fact that ASO4 is a somewhat new adjuvant, the development of which would by rights be first reported on by the lab that created it.  Regardless, the two authors provide no data whatsoever that this specific adjuvant might be dangerous; rather, they rail at the fact that there are not enough data showing its safety in individuals with autoimmune disorders. Why they are now wandering down the road of autoimmune disease is unclear, though they make some further insinuations that vaccines might “trigger” autoimmune diseases, cherry-picking the literature and ignoring the copious amounts of data showing the general safety of vaccines in individuals with autoimmune disorders.

They state, for example, that multiple sclerosis is a “serious demylenating disease of the central nervous system that typically follow(s) a febrile infection or vaccination”. The latter part of this statement is beyond ridiculous, as it is akin to stating that these diseases typically follow the inhalation of air.  In fact, some vaccines, including tetanus and diptheria, are actually significantly associated with a consistent and substantial reduction in risk for multiple sclerosis (5), but this is not discussed. They then go on to list and beat on every disorder ever reported to VAERS, despite that fact that the CDC has detected no clustering of any disease after HPV vacccination.  But just ignore that, Tomljenovic and Shaw, in your blindered quest to make your point.

Next up, we have:  Safety assessment of HPV vaccines in clinical trials: was it adequate?

Tomljenovic and Shaw lead off with a trite analysis of placebos and of what they should be made. They then start hammering on the fact that the clinical trials of HPV vaccine used a placebo that contained aluminum adjuvant. The idea is that Merck and GSK were manipulating the trials such that any adverse events caused by the vaccine would be matched by including aluminum in the placebo, and as such both the test and placebo arms would have equivalent, but artificially so, rates of adverse events. Oddly, they later go on to admit that many of the trials used separate saline placebo and aluminum placebo arms.  So how on earth could they have been manipulating the placebo group to make the drug look more favorable?

In addition, Tomljenovic and Shaw, a basic tenet of the placebo-controlled trial is that the placebo is IDENTICAL to the active drug, with one difference–the lack of the component being tested for efficacy, which in this case would be the HPV virus-like particle (VLP). Let’s say that the test drug included the aluminum adjuvant and the VLP, while the placebo did not contain the adjuvant. When, in 20 years, the vaccine has been shown to have substantially reduced the risk of cervical, anal, and head and neck cancers, there would be tinfoil hatters that would claim that it was the ALUMINUM that prevented cervical cancer, not the VLP. And there would be no data to indicate otherwise.  Therefore, the placebo MUST contain the adjuvant for a fair test of the actual drug.

Are HPV vaccines cost-effective?

I’m not a health economist, though I’ve worked on grants in this field. I can tell  you that it’s an extremely difficult area of study and it requires major expertise to conduct a cost-benefit analysis with any reliability at all.  If my reader wants to comment on this section, that would be great. It seems to me that the authors make a heck of a lot of assumptions for this analysis, though, and I’m not at all sure of its accuracy.

Are there safe and effective alternatives to HPV vaccination?

The authors start this section off with this quote:

Although approximately 275,000 women die annually from cervical cancer worldwide, almost 88% of these deaths occur in developing countries.

Right. Developing countries. Areas where women are in many cases marginalized, and where there may be rampant poverty and a severe lack of regular access to healthcare. You know what may work better than a Pap Smear in these areas? A vaccination, that’s what. The authors blather on and on about how the Pap is superior to the HPV vaccine, which may be true in a perfect world where every woman can get a Pap each year. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Or maybe we just shouldn’t care about HPV in women who cannot afford or who do not have access to a clinic to run in and get a Pap every single year (or every three years, as the case may be).

How does HPV vaccine marketing and promotion line up with international ethical guidelines for informed consent?

This section is a bit odd because it begins with an attempted assassination of the FDA. Okay, agreed-the FDA has some problems. But anyway, they go on and on talking about the advertising blitz that Merck did for Gardasil. Agreed, Tomljenovic and Shaw, Merck was largely responsible for the backlash against its own drug by promoting it so heavily. But if you are seriously going to look at the ethics in drug advertising, you’re going to need to go a lot deeper than the HPV vaccine, a drug that has been proven to be safe and effective. Given that Shaw is heavily involved in developing his own drug (6), I’m not certain he wants to go too far down that road. There are other serious flaws with their argument, including what appears to me to be a fundamental misunderstanding of who is responsible for informed consent, but perhaps I’ll tackle that at another time.


I doubt that the authors see the irony here. But buried in the last paragraph is this statement: “The presentation of partial and non-factual information regarding cervical cancer risks and the usefulness of HPV vaccines, as cited above, is, in our view, neither scientific nor ethical.”

That’s right, Tomljenovic and Shaw. In my view, your paper is neither scientific nor ethical. The Editors of Annals of Medicine, the reviewers who approved this piece of crap paper, and the editor who ushered it to publication should hang their heads in shame.  Perhaps the anti-vaccination activist groups who funded the authors feel differently, however, especially since at least one of these authors has taken their dog-and-pony show out on the anti-vax lecture circuit (7), a very lucrative area indeed.

If you are interested in more information on who provided the funding  for this paper, the Dwoskin Foundation was the major supporter of a National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) conference (8).  NVIC is an established anti-vaccination activist organization. The Katlyn Fox Foundation provides a veritable cornucopia of anti-vaccination propaganda (9). The authors reported these conflicts of interest, and the impact of the funding source on the product can only be guessed at.

(1) Tomljenovic and Shaw, Annals of Medicine, December 22 2011. For now this is in early online form, but here is the link:



(4) Buonaguro FM, Tornesello ML, Buonaguro L. New adjuvants in evolving vaccine strategies. Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2011 Jul;11(7):827-32. Epub  2011 May 24.

(5) Farez MF, Correale J. Immunizations and risk of multiple sclerosis: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Neurol. 2011 Jul;258(7):1197-206. Epub  2011 Mar 24.


(7) This work was supported by the Dwoskin, Lotus and Katlyn Fox Family Foundations. L.T. and C.A.S. conducted a histological analysis of autopsy brain samples from a Gardasil-suspected death case. C.A.S. is a founder and shareholder of Neurodyn Corporation, Inc. The company investigates early-state neurological disease mechanisms and biomarkers. This work and any views expressed within it are solely those of the authors and not of any affiliated bodies or organizations. A portion of this information was presented at the Vaccine Safety Conference, 3 – 8 January 2011 (



From → vaccines

  1. If this paper is such an embarrassment, perhaps you should do everyone a favour, and make the legitimate scientific response, which is to present your version of the facts to the medical journal so that they can evaluate it, and the authors can respond.

    That is, after all, the way it’s supposed to work, and if the jourhal has such a good impact rate, they won’t want to tarnish that, and will want to do “trial by scientific enquiry” rather than trial by blog whining.

  2. Hi Hilary!

    Thanks for taking the time to stop by. To address your questions:

    First, how do you know that I haven’t sent a letter to the journal? The paper came out in late December. If you are at all familiar with the scientific literature, you will know that Letters to the Editor don’t appear for 2-4 issues post-publication. Further, the authors of the paper are more than welcome to respond right here on this blog. It’s a brave new world, you know. It certainly is interesting that you are opposed to a blog post that questions the “medical establishment”, though. It *almost* seems hypocritical.

  3. The correct procedure for all scientists is to write to the publishing journal, and to address their concerns there. Normal policy states that a journal will NOT publish anything first discussed on internet, therefore anyone wishing to address issues the correct way would NOT do what you have done here. Therefore, I am assuming that you have not written a letter, but just showed off to your mates instead.

    Even in this “brave new world” as you call it, any reply the authors may make to any jouirnal, would ALSO not be published if they came here either.

    Reputable scientists do not indulge in internet “jackal” activities unless they aren’t confident they could front up well, in the correct forum.

    There is no hypocrisy in my stance. I speak out on what I think. I dont’ purport to be a scientist. Furthermore, I always email people before I have something to say in order to make sure I’m not about to make an ass of myself., and where possible embed full texts….

    Such as this post of mine:'s_Desk/post/Paracetamol_should_not_be_used_for_infectious_fevers_-_revisited/

    And when I’m “blogging” I don’t character assassinate people, or make sweeping assumptions or inuendo, just because I disagree with their stance.

    You may ask why I don’t allow comments on my blog. Why would I? So that people like you, could invite others like yourself, to come and dogpile in sequence, solely to listen to yourself and your mates? I’m interested in issues, not in ego-based medicine.

    And I doubt you see the irony of the majority of vaccine studies being funded by the manufacturers, either on top of, or under the table, …. even when you hit on people for using research money from the Dwoskin Foundation.

    It’s like doctors criticising vitamin studies funded by vitamin manufacturing companies. Amongst the pro-vaccine system, the hypocrisy actually knows no bounds, but the real difficulty is that the medical system fails to see how hypocritical their own coop is.

    • Hilary,

      I understand that my blog post has upset you tremendously. But let’s stick to the science. Can you provide a factual scientific analysis that counters any of the points I made in my blog critique? Please provide references to peer-reviewed medical or scientific journals. Otherwise, I’m afraid there’s not much else to discuss.

      However, I leave you with a word of caution. As a member of the editorial board of several scientific journals, I’m afraid you don’t really understand the process of writing Letters to the Editor, nor responses to those letters. The authors of the paper are welcome to respond to this blog post, and such an action would not prevent their response to any letter that is written to Annals of Medicine.

  4. So where is the reply to my comment that you emailed me?

  5. Mmmm… “Again the authors begin by banging on the idea tha HPV vaccine has not been proven to work. Again, this is simply because of the time it takes for cervical cancer to develop, not because of some conspiracy.” — So you’re saying this vaccine is preventing cancer? It seems you are equating by saying it takes time to develop cancer … that if cancer is not developed in the person vaccinated, the vaccine worked?

    • No, Jeffry. As I clearly explained in my post, what I am saying is that the vaccine WILL prevent cancer. This is based upon the well-established pathway of HPV infection to cervical cancer development. As the authors acknowledge, the HPV vaccine is very effective at preventing CIN, or precancerous lesions. Given the fact that the HPV-to-CIN-to-cancer pathway has been indisputably established, it follows that HPV vaccine will prevent cancer. We will find out with absolute certainty in approximately 10 years’ time. In the meantime, people who do not understand this pathway will have a decade to rather disingenously claim that the HPV vaccine will not prevent cancer, and as such will cause irreparable harm.

  6. I believe that people should see what you’ve said. Your comments explain so much. You say that there are many scientists far more reputable than you, who post about medical literature on a daily basis. True. There is nothing wrong with them saying what they think, and at least we usually know exactly who they are. Many of them like me…. don’t invite comment, and that’s fine … and others do.

    As to one of your accusations against me, that I never emailed you before I posed my comment… – how could I (if I had wanted to)? Your cloak of anonymity on this website, means there isn’t an email. Your comment reply to my email, is “do not reply”…. so you know mine, and I don’t know yours.

    If I am writing a blog, as I said above, I email people to make sure I know exactly where I stand on the issue…, and know what their responses are.

    You are dissing both authors, article and funding – yet never bothered to check out with them first?

    You say, in reply to my comment about not allowing comment, “This is absolutely delicious. I had no idea that you don’t allow comments at your blog. Indeed, your hypocrisy grows by the nanosecond.” Not so. I have an email on the bottom of every page on my website, and any really honest scientist who wants to “talk” to me, rather than “at” or “past” me, can email me, and … many do. Then we have really interesting discussions privately. And the scientists who discuss things with me privately, constructively, don’t land up being featured on my blogs, because they have my respect.

    You say your colleagues have no idea you are blogging – what do you think they would say, if they knew? Maybe they would be quite happy, maybe not, but why do you feel the need to sneak around using an internet burka, while the rest of allow our faces and identities to be clearly seen, and have contact emails on our websites?

    And those medical journals you sit on the boards of, do they have any idea you are pontificating on others in such a manner? Does having an anonymous ranting blog fulfill the job specifications for a throughtful, educated, analytical “reviewer”?

    As a journal reviewer, you would (?) know that all journals require authors to STATE where their funding comes from. I don’t care if you discuss the funding for the above article. I do care, that you can’t see that your comment is simply pot calling kettle black.

    • Hilary, again, I ask you. Can you provide any scientific counterpoint whatsoever to anything I’ve written? I kinda get the rest. My post made you very, very angry. You don’t like it. Let’s move on to the science, shall we?

      FYI, here is my original comment, in its entirety, lest there be any confusion about what I originally wrote. However, I deleted it because I felt it was counter-productive, and clearly, it was.

      “The correct procedure for all scientists is to write to the publishing journal, and to address their concerns there. Normal policy states that a journal will NOT publish anything first discussed on internet”

      Really? Where’d you hear this? I’m on the editorial board of a few journals and I’ve never heard of this policy, though there may be some journals where it is in place.

      “Therefore, I am assuming that you have not written a letter, but just showed off to your mates instead.”

      Never assume, Hilary. You know why, right? I don’t have to spell it out for you. My “mates” have no clue that I write this blog, so we can nuke that hypothesis.

      “Reputable scientists do not indulge in internet “jackal” activities unless they aren’t confident they could front up well, in the correct forum.”

      Assumes facts not in evidence, Hilary. There are plenty of scientists, far more reputable than I myself am, who post about the medical literature on a daily basis.

      “There is no hypocrisy in my stance. I speak out on what I think. I dont’ purport to be a scientist. Furthermore, I always email people before I have something to say in order to make sure I’m not about to make an ass of myself.”

      Hmmmm, so what is wrong with me saying what I think? What? Scientists have to sit down and take it while the anti-vax movement runs roughshod all over the internet? Not anymore. Incidentally, you didn’t email me before you posted your comment, sooooo…

      “And when I’m “blogging” I don’t character assassinate people, or make sweeping assumptions or inuendo, just because I disagree with their stance”

      This is a little too vague for my taste. To which of my comments do you object, specifically?

      “You may ask why I don’t allow comments on my blog. Why would I? So that people like you, could invite others like yourself, to come and dogpile in sequence, solely to listen to yourself and your mates? I’m interested in issues, not in ego-based medicine.”

      This is absolutely delicious. I had no idea that you don’t allow comments at your blog. Indeed, your hypocrisy grows by the nanosecond.

      “And I doubt you see the irony of the majority of vaccine studies being funded by the manufacturers, either on top of, or under the table, …. even when you hit on people for using research money from the Dwoskin Foundation.”

      My point, which was clear in the post, is that the authors of the paper themselves were discussing funding sources. So I felt it would be appropriate to discuss it as well. No? Only anti-vaxxers are allowed? Good to know.

      One final note. I honestly thought my email address was somewhere on this page. Guess not. If you’d like to email me feel free, the address is skewedistribution at gmail dot com.

  7. “My “mates” have no clue that I write this blog, so we can nuke that hypothesis. ” This is significant to me. When supposed scientists, epidemiologists, and doctors like “Orec” are fighting very dirty, using foul language, attempting to ruin the reputation of doctors that disagree with him, they never use their real names. Just what are you all hiding from anyway? As soon as I see something like “steaming turd” I know it is coming from a skeptic. You’ll never see Hilary or Jeff using language like that because they don’t have to.

    • Yep, I’m a skeptic all right. Thanks for the compliment.

      • Actually, as you know, it was not a compliment but a statement of fact. I wonder what your mates and colleagues would think if they knew about your extracurricular activities. I had thought about using a pseudonym on my website but I realized it would detract from my credibility. But this concern seems to be or no importance for skeptics as yourself and Gorski/Orec…not that you are in the same class as him. He’s a real professional :) and I very much enjoy being called insane, scum etc. by him. Seems to me, skewed, that you are the one that has gotten stewed. Perhaps best for you to go and cool off tonight, before your real skeptic colors come out and your start shouting obscenities out, like they always do when they lose an argument. Cheers.

  8. I’ve tried to upload a reply onto your website but it won’t take it. This is a test to see if it takes a shorter version. I’ve emailed the long version for you to manually post if there is a problem with it.

  9. I emailled to skeweddistribution at gmail dot com, not the address you put above, which only had one “d”

    • Well Hilary, the email address that you sent it to is incorrect. The one that I posted is correct.

      I’ve got things to do tonight, so we’ll have to wait to continue this discussion.

  10. That is very interesting, because usually when an email address doesn’t exist, an immediate notice is sent back saying “permanent fatal error”. No such notice came back, so I guess someone ELSE has an email spelled the same as your blog. Hopefully they are now “educated” as well.

    Let’s see just how long it takes you to put up what your website refused to accept.

    • Thanks for your analysis of sending an email to the wrong email address. I’m sure the other skewed appreciated your email as much as I did.

  11. @ Suzanne. I’ve never known a truly intelligent, thinking scientist/skeptic to use terms like “steaming turds”.

  12. Schwartz permalink

    “Hilary, again, I ask you. Can you provide any scientific counterpoint whatsoever to anything I’ve written? I kinda get the rest. My post made you very, very angry. You don’t like it. Let’s move on to the science, shall we?”

    This is truly ironic coming from someone who opens a “scientific” critique with 2 and half paragraphs of rambling rhetoric? Not to mention, your second sentence above is incredibly presumtive. Personally, rants in the name of science don’t make me angry, they makes me shake my head.

    Your opening “scientific” argument is actually a strawman. You state: “More disturbing however is the authors’ apparent belief that the HPV-to-CIN-to cancer pathway is hogwash. Because the only way they can insinuate that HPV vaccine won’t prevent cervcial cancer is to ignore this well-understood and well-established pathway to cervical carcinogenesis. If HPV vaccine prevents CIN, then it WILL prevent cervical cancer. But Tomljenovic and Shaw? Pshaw! It appears from the wording in this section that they do not seem to believe the scientific data of the last 50 years regarding HPV causing cervical cancer.”

    Let’s start with the first part. I couldn’t find any reference in the article to indicate they did not believe the HPV to CIN to cancer pathway is hogwash. Perhaps you can quote the relevent section. In fact, what I read indicates the opposite.

    “Nonetheless, although cervical cancer may be caused by persistent exposure to 15 out of 100 extant HPVs through sexual contact (11), even persistent HPV infections caused by ‘ high-risk ’ HPVs will usually not lead to immediate precursor lesions, let alone in the longer term to cervical cancer.”

    It certainly looks like believe in the pathway. They continue:

    “The reason for this is that as much as 90% HPV infections resolve spontaneously within 2 years and, of those that do not resolve, only a small proportion may progress to cancer over the subsequent 20 – 40 years (10,11,16 – 18). Moreover, research data show that even higher degrees of atypia (such as CIN 2/3) can either resolve or stabilize over time (19).”

    OK, so most lesions don’t actually lead to cervical cancer. Let’s move on to the main point:

    “Thus, in the absence of long-term follow-up data, it is impossible to know whether HPV vaccines
    can indeed prevent some cervical cancers or merely postpone them. In addition, neither of the two vaccines is able to clear existing HPV-16/18 infections, nor can they prevent their progression to CIN 2/3 lesions (20,21). According to the FDA, ‘ It is believed that prevention of cervical precancerous lesions is highly likely to result in the prevention of those cancers ’ (emphasis added) (22). It would thus appear that even the FDA acknowledges that the long-term benefits of HPV vaccination rest on assumptions rather than solid research data.”

    Sounds pretty logical to me. Given that most lesions do not result in cancer, there is a lack of understand of why in some rare cases, they proceed to the cancerous stage. If you don’t know the factors that differentiate the normal case (where they clear) from the rare cancerous stage, you really don’t have any idea as to whether a very targeted intervention like killing 2 strains (or 4) is actually going to make any long term difference. If anything, the assumption that it will is based on a house of cards and a simplistic notion of the mechanisms which are clearly not well understood. As they note, even the FDA wording acknowledges the doubt.

    So, your whole opening argument (after 2 paragraphs of rhetoric) was a brutally embellished strawman! Perhaps Hilary couldn’t make a scientific rebuttal since there wasn’t any scientific argument to start with? Is it even worth continuing? I would be happy to oblige if you would respond to the problems with your first argument.

    • Schwartz, the concept is quite simple. If you understand the very well-documented and well-understood HPV-to-CIN-to-cervical cancer pathway, then you cannot claim, insinuate, or otherwise imply that a vaccine that has demonstrated efficacy for the prevention of HPV infection and CIN will not prevent cancers. Period. The rest of it is hand-waving.

      Regarding this quote: “In addition, neither of the two vaccines is able to clear existing HPV-16/18 infections, nor can they prevent their progression to CIN 2/3 lesions (20,21), you need to understand another very simple fact. HPV vaccine is not a cure, it is a preventive measure. Once a person has HPV 16/18, a vaccine will not do a dang-nabbed thing to help them. This is another very simple concept to grasp.

      • Schwartz permalink

        I agree, the concept of a strawman is quite simple. You grossly misrepresented what is written in the study. If so, where is the reference? It is as simple as that.

        I understand the details quite clearly. I also know that it most often occurs from repeated infection of the same strain which itself is unusual for anyone who has a working immune system. Given that the efficacy of the vaccine is not 100%, how do you know that the rare cases of cervical cancer aren’t caused (i.e. repeated infection by the same strain) by the same condition that prevents the vaccine from working in rare cases?

        You will only know that answer from a long term clinical trial that actually measures the endpoint. That is actually taken from a simple concept called Evidence Based Medicine. You actually have to base clinical decisions on high quality evidence. In order to get high quality evidence, you have to measure the actual endpoint in a large clinical trial (preferably a randomized one) since your THEORY is still based on a host of assumptions.

        Frankly, the gross misrepresentation of your opening argument (a strawman) and the blatent disregard of inherent uncertainty calls into serious your claims of having been a peer reviewer.

        Out of curiousity, what was the impact factor of the journal you claim to have been a reviewer for? Also, did you submit your questions above as a letter to the journal?

        • Blah blah blah, Schwartz. You have provided no science to counter anything that I wrote. You think I misrepresented the steaming turd of a paper, and nothing I can say or provide as evidence will change your mind. The evidence-based medicine is already complete for people who do not don tinfoil hats. I am sorry if you lack the knowledge and capability to extrapolate from demonstrated efficacy of preventing HPV infection and CIN to the prevention of cervical cancer. You have 10 years to sow your disingenuous message and there is plenty of damage to be done by you and your ilk during that time, so get cracking. Tick tock. Meanwhile, we will barrel toward a future where women will still die of a vaccine-preventable disease.

  13. Reposting since you ignored the first post. – Actually, as you know, it was not a compliment but a statement of fact. I wonder what your mates and colleagues would think if they knew about your extracurricular activities. I had thought about using a pseudonym on my website but I realized it would detract from my credibility. But this concern seems to be or no importance for skeptics as yourself and Gorski/Orec…not that you are in the same class as him. He’s a real professional :) and I very much enjoy being called insane, scum etc. by him. Seems to me, skewed, that you are the one that has gotten stewed. Perhaps best for you to go and cool off tonight, before your real skeptic colors come out and your start shouting obscenities out, like they always do when they lose an argument. Cheers.

    • Suzanne, if you would like to present a scientific counterpoint to my blog post, feel free. If you would like to continue talking about being called “scum” and “insane”, feel free to do it elsewhere, or be prepared to elaborate when I actually get some time to find out who you are and why Orac would call you scum.

  14. You are quite right.

    In the past, the medical profession kept their emotions and thoughts very much aloof and in house. They also never told you stuff you should have known. They behaved like patriarcal/matriarcal gods on the 14th cloud from the seventh moon removed…. Once upon a time, it was considered the right thing to never tell a person they had cancer. So much stuff was hidden.

    Honest communications, makes it much easier for the “patient” to understand what a doctor is really about when they speak their mind. Their use of words conveys a lot.

    It also makes finding a “good” family doctor very much easier, if you know exactly what, and how they think, and whether they are operating solely from the prescription handbook, conditioned emotion, fear, maybe ego-based medicine, or careful analytical thought.

    And now, pubmed and medical data bases also makes it much easier to work out whether or not a potential GP is actually competent in their diagnosis, as well as proposed “treatment”… ,…. so all in all, openness is all good.

    It’s also much easier now, to be able to hold people accountable for what words they do say…. , whereas the past was all about belief where the doctor would say, “Trust us, we know what we are doing”.

  15. If you enjoyed the email, will you now upload it to you site please, since your site would not let me put it up myself.

  16. Oh come now SD. Suzanne was pointing out that “others” who might call themselves “skeptics” just throw insults, rather than discussion and that you were heading down the same track with the term “steaming turd”.. How can Suzanne even talk “science” with regard to your article, when your own science was both amorphous and insult throwing, as well as sweeping assumptions of your own, which have no solid epidemiological foundation?

    There are huge problems with the study (5) you quoted, which even a trainee epidemiologist should have been alert to. That you put it up as part of your original blog was quite astonishing to me. That you ascribed it such solid veracity, is even more astonishing.

    In my (sheltered world) experience, epidemiologist have in the past been rational, scientific thinking and temperament, usually very cautious and analytic creatures. Your blog and the use of that reference show me that you are more of the temperament of “fools rush in where angels fear to tread”. If that be the case, and if you and ORAC are best buddies, then it doesn’t bode well for science, does it?

    So as I said, talking about the science on your post is just about near impossible, since the science you presented was, in my opinion, scattered and assumptive. AND the correct way for you, as an epidemiologist who insistes they are on lots of journal boards, is to address your concerns through the Annals, not through a rant.

    It would be very interesting to see if you copied and pasted your blog rant into an email, and sent it to the Annals as a counterpoint what their reply to you would be.

    • Hilary,

      Unless you are going to post some science to debate the content of my post, I’m afraid that your comments aren’t adding much to the discussion and I’m going to block them. Again, your point has been made. You hate my blog post. You think because I used the term “steaming turd” that I’m not a scientist. You have blown a single sentence that you misintrepreted entirely out of proportion. Now, unless you provide some data as a counterpoint to my post, I’m only going to post your comments if they amuse me for some reason. Ta ta.

  17. No I didn’t since, it was a comment related to this blog post….

    • Yeah, sorry about that, but my comments section has a link limit. Regardless I’m sure the reader will be able to figure out what it was in response to, so don’t worry about it.

  18. So” blocking” is your idea of constructive discussion? Is “misinterpretation” a problem of the hearer, or is it a problem of the writer in not being clear in the first place, thereby leaving room for misinterpretation?

    I don’t hate your blog post. Your blog post reflects your “science” and lack of due process. I’m glad you posted it, because this sort of post gives great insight into thinking processes.

    • Indeed, it does give great insight into thinking processes. Your comments in general have included the following points that do not require further repetition for my reader.

      1. Whether you deny it or not, my blog post upset you so much that you are constantly posting here instead of tending sheep or whatever it is that you usually do.

      2. You think I’m a terrible scientist because I used the term ‘steaming turd’ to describe a scientific paper.

      3. You think that nobody should blog about scientific papers and that they should only be allowed to communicate their thoughts and opinions through Letters to the Editor.

      4. You can’t find any science in my post, despite the fact that it is staring you in the face.

      5. You don’t understand the difference between the terms “associated with a reduction” and “reduces”.

      Now, if you have anything…anything at all to do with science that is not a repetition of these themes, your comment will get through. If it’s more of the same, they won’t. This ain’t your blog, sugar. So in the words of Jim Rome: Have a take and don’t suck.

  19. William Jamison permalink

    As a scientist, I am appalled at the publication of the hit piece authored by two PhD neuroscientists on a vaccine against a viral pathogen.

    Expertise in any particular discipline does not extend to other disciplines.

    The two authors in question should be ashamed for pandering to the anti-vaccine crowd, and by trying to bring an air of authority to their specious spoutings in an area in which they lack deep scientific understanding, and therefore, credibility.

    Thank you, skeweddistribution, for taking up the cause. I hope you carry on.

    • William, thanks very much for your comment. Obviously I agree with you completely, and I especially appreciate your use of the term “pandering”, because it fits perfectly. Like you, I have no problem with people “questioning” established science, but if a person is going to do it, they have to do better than data misinterpretation and shady insinuation.

  20. William Jamison permalink

    I’ll be shocked if there aren’t more than a few scathing criticisms of this hit piece offered for publication in the next edition of the Annals.

  21. Absolutely. I will be checking the Annals of Medicine often, and I have no doubt I’ll blog about any letters that get published. Of course, I’d also love to see the ones that aren’t chosen for publication.

  22. Ah, bless you a million times for engaging these anti-vaxxers. You have heaps more patience than I do.

    • Thanks for your comment Ashley. I don’t know about patience, I guess I’m just endlessly entertained by what is emitted from anti-vaxxers.

  23. Vaccinator permalink

    MAERS….genius. Im stealing that analogy if I may. Thank you for a great post, and thank you for your patience in dealing with these people.

    • Thanks Vaccinator for reading and commenting, and feel free to spread MAERS far and wide.

    • I once wrote essentially the same analogy, with cats!

      “Think of it this way: Say I made a system called the Black Cat Adverse Event Reporting System (B-CAERS). I advertise it a bunch, and get people to report whenever a bad thing happens to them after they see a black cat. If enough people know about it, they are going to start filing B-CAERS reports. Having car accidents, getting dumped, losing their wallet, that sort of thing happens all the time after seeing black cats. But not everybody is going to take the time to file a report – many people won’t know about it, many won’t take the time, and many won’t do it because they believe the event was not related to the black cat sighting.

      In this case, those people would be correct. Although *events* after black cat sightings would be severely underreported, actual *reactions* to black cats (meaning bad things that were actually caused by the cats) would not be. There would actually be NO black cat “reactions,” because all that stuff is coincidental (unless you count things like people walking into traffic because they were actually distracted by the stupid cat :P ).”

  24. Lizardqueen permalink

    SD, keep calm and carry on. Your work is noticed, valued and appreciated. We need more like this.

    • Thanks very much for stopping by and for your supportive comment. I’ll be here, blogging away, for as long as it takes. Just as soon as I get my grant submitted, that is!

  25. Yulia permalink

    These vaccines are directed only to two types of 15 (or even more?) known oncogenic viruses, connected with cervical cancer. But in conditions of “sexual revolution” (“new brave world”), the remaining types may continue to spread both in vaccinated and unvaccinated women. And these viruses may become more aggressive. All specialists, involved in elaboration of these vaccines, mentioned this problem in their publications. It is not only a “lie” of anti-vaccine movement. From this point of view, the effectivenes of these vaccines in prevention cervical cancer at population level really has not been proved. And leading specislists, involved in development of these vaccines, also admit this (i.e., see: P.L. Stern and H.C. Kitchener (eds.) Vaccines for the prevention of cervical cancer, Oxford University Press, 2008). Therefore, let us be honest: HPV vaccination company is a great experiment (without proper informed consent) performed at the global level. I do not support anti-vaccine movement New-age-res at all, but I don’t like anti-scientific ideological propaganda around anti-HPV vaccines as well. I am afraid that this huge anti-HPV vaccination company only will result in discrediting really valid vaccines, proved to be effective in prevention of other deseases. And, as a consequence, this will support the anti-vaccination movement.

    • Yulia, your argument is a bit inaccurate as you seem to imply that because the HPV vaccine only protects against HPV 16 and 18, it would not be a major player in preventing cancer. HPV 16 and 18 cause approximately 75% of cervical cancers in the U.S. The rest of your argument seems to indicate that if we can only prevent 75% of cervical cancers, we shouldn’t vaccinate for it at all. I don’t agree with your position. Your worry–that HPV vaccine will “discredit” other vaccines–is only perpetuated by inaccurate or misleading insinuations.

  26. Yulia permalink

    I would like to mention, that 75% of cervical cancers due to HPV types 16 and 18 – this is the resulting level, corresponding to the present situation. It is the current state of the complex system: humans + at least 15 types of oncogenic HPV viruses + different modes of sexual behaviour and etc. (in the absence of vaccination). It should be also taken in account, that the number of CIN2/3 lesions caused by HPV 16 and 18 is only 45 – 60% (75% is the final result, at the stage of cancer). The introduction of vaccines evidently will change this “ecology”. However it is difficult to describe such complex sociobiological systems in the term of simple arithmetical calculations and predictions. We can’t predict what the new “equillibrium” state will be, how the suppression of two virus types will effect the behaviour of the others and so on. It could be known only experimentally. It is not only my opinion. Several leading specialists, involved in elaboration of these vaccines, mention this issue. For example, see the book of HPV-vaccine proponents: P.L. Stern and H.C. Kitchener (eds.) Vaccines for the prevention of cervical cancer, Oxford University Press, 2008, or the well known interview of Diana Harper: From this viewpoint, the paper under discussion is not very “original”, it simply is “unpolitcorrect”.
    In summary, I do not believe that the given sex-transmitted desease can be stopped by these vaccines. To my mind, this is utopia. Vaccination is a nice thing, but not for this case. For the given purpose, other measures are required. By any way, the suggestion that vaccines against HPV strains 16 and 18 will eliminate 75% of cervical cancers should be tested experimentally. Today it is no more than the hypothesis.

    • Yulia,

      You are right that we cannot predict the future ecology of viruses, and it’s hubris to think that we can. Does this mean we should not try to prevent cancers with HPV vaccine? Surely you have seen the data that show how effective the HPV vaccine is at preventing all stages of CIN? Do you think that future vaccines will not be polyvalent and able to prevent all of the oncogenic HPV types? Science is a series of steps and building blocks. This is the first one, and girls who receive it will be protected from the most dangerous HPV forms.

      I do not dismiss your concerns out-of-hand, but in the proven absence of danger from this vaccine, I do not understand your objections. It’s not reasonable to expect a study of HPV vaccine and cancer at this point, and further, it’s not necessary. Because if you understand the carcinogenic pathway, you know that preventing CIN means preventing cancer. It would be unethical at this point to give a young woman a placebo.

      Harper’s points are actually well-taken. Like many of us, she recoiled at Merck’s aggressive marketing campaign. I have written about this here before and discussed my belief that Merck’s marketing is the primary reason for HPV vaccine backlash. It’s become quite in vogue among researchers to appear to be skeptical of HPV vaccine as they desperately try to distance themselves from the “pharma shill” gambit. Ironically, many of these researchers (I am not talking about Harper here) have involvement in competing cervical cancer projects (ie companies that test for HPV DNA in tissue). But even Harper is not opposed to the HPV vaccine. She has legitimate concerns, but still thinks it should be used.

      Please do not think I do not question how the deployment of this vaccine could have maximal efficiency. But the bottom line is this: it is safe, and it prevents CIN. And even THAT is a benefit to a young woman facing treatments for this condition. And none of this changes my concerns with the paper that I originally blogged about.

      I have enjoyed this discussion with you, because it’s about science, so thank you.

      • Yulia permalink

        Thank you for your kind reply. But I would like to add one more consideration. The discovery that cervical cancer is linked with sex-transmitted virus means that this desease is more social than biological problem. Therefore it seems not be correct and safe (from the scientific viewpoint of as well) to use exclusively biological approach to solve social problem, closely connected with morality, ethical values, and etc. Vaccines may be used, but as the additional means only. The best way to protect young girls is to teach them some very important and simple things. To my mind this aspect of the given problem is very well discussed (from the scientific viewpoint as well) in the lectures and books of Dr. Miriam Grossman. For example, she told:
        “In sexuality – “and I’m not talking about morality, I’m a physician” – the ideal was one sexual partnership for life, delayed until adulthood. People that are able to achieve that – not that this is so easy – never have to worry about these myriad health issues. Health issues included STIs and human papilloma virus (HPV), which is a key factor in cervical cancers”.

        • Hi again Yulia,

          I’m afraid that I will never get behind the argument that sexual abstinence is an effective public health measure. Sex is awesome, and more importantly it is THE primary evolutionary driver. I don’t think that can be overcome by recommending one sexual partner or abstinence until adulthood. Further, recent studies have shown that intercourse need not happen for HPV to be transmitted.

          I agree with your point about this being partly a social issue. And some of it may reek once again of forcing women to shoulder the medical burden for sexual activity, but it’s also women who are primarily protected by HPV vaccine.

  27. Yulia permalink

    Dear SD, my experience of woman and mother taught me, that women (and men as well) always pay a great price (including medical burden) for “sexual activity” if this activity follows the recommendations of “sex revolution” ideologists. And one can’t invent such wonderful vaccines that would save anyone from this burden in such conditions. Possibly, these vaccines will eliminate 2 HPV, but the girls (and boys as well) may get another 13 HPV, HIV, hepatitis C, depression or something else, following this way. Let’s imagine such situation. The epidemiologists found the great amount of deadly dangerous bacteria in the lake near the city. And they recommended the citizens to vaccinate their children with vaccines allowing to obtain about 50 – 80% protection. And at the same time parents and children were encouraged to continue swimming in this dangerous lake and to drink unboiled water from it. What will be the reaction of citizens with respect to such “health policy”? The similar situation is taking place around sex-transmitted HPV infection (in this connection it should be noticed that though it has been shown that intercourse need not happen for HPV to be transmitted, another kind of sex activity still is required). The matter is that the discovery of sex-transmitted oncogenic viruses shows again that traditional family values, morality, the innocence of childhood, virginity and etc. are not the “old-fashioned toys” the society may raze to the ground without tragic consequences, even in the “new brave world”.

    • I do not agree. Scientific studies have shown that “abstinence only” messages do not prevent sexual activity and are ineffective overall. They may, however, cause shame, and also cause young women and men not to seek appropriate medical care. Your analogy to the bacteria-infested lake is not relevant. There is no benefit to be had by jumping into a bacteria-ridden lake, and much to be lost. There is no evolutionary driver pulling people into that lake.

      Educating children and teens about contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, and the like is not an encouragement of these activities. It is prevention of potentially dangerous and/or life-altering outcomes, including a clear explanation of what is appropriate sexual behavior and what is not. They should know what the choices are. Young men and women who are vaccinated for HPV have not been demonstrated to be more sexually active than those who are not. And public health practitioners have to face the realities of life, and cannot afford to proceed with an unrealistic view of the world.

      I was enjoying our exchange and find myself dismayed to think that perhaps the underlying reason you are opposed to the HPV vaccine is that you may think that sexually active women deserve to be punished in some way?

      • Yulia permalink

        Dear SD, I live in Russia, but my son with his family and children live in USA. So, both children in Russia and USA are close to me. By no more I want “sexually active women to be punished”. However what I have seen during my life, women (and not only they) engaged in ideology of “sexual revolution” very often became unhappy. They inevitably suffer from the burden of this dangerous practice and ideology. And after they became older they very often regret that nobody has warned them and stopped them from this way (even sociological studies have suuported these observations). Happingly, I could understand this before my son become adult and explain him some important things. I support the position of Dr. Miriam Grossman. I think you know about her – even in Russia I have noticed her books and lectures. If not, here is her latest book: “You are teaching my child What?”. She is not an angry person wishing punishments to anybody. But she is a mother, loving her children, and good campus doctor who saw many ruined young lifes as a result of this “sex liberalizm” and “sex-revolution” behaviour. Of course, not all children will follow “abstinence”. But not all children will develop immunity after vaccination as well. And not all people follow the proper rules of safety driving the cars. I have to confess that I don’t like to discuss society problems in terms of “evolution”. I respect Darwin, but his famous book was about animal and plant species not human society. And if even speaking in modern ”evolution” terms, we are not insects, but high developped beings. And among high animals there are species following different and some times very complex (not obligatory primitive “promiscuity”) behaviour. Such “non-promiscuity” (very “family-oriented”) species have been found even among hamsters. And I don’t think that voluntary pulling into deadly poisoned lake is a good practice from evolution viewpoint and national perspectives (in Russia we have a very sad historical experience of different danger “social experiments”).

        • Yulia permalink

          P.S. I do not “oppose” HPV vaccines. Let them to be developped. They are only scientific finding and medical technology instruments, no more else. And each instrument and invention may be used with different social and ethical purposes. But I oppose the health politics which I described in my previous post at the example of “poisoned lake”.

        • Yulia,

          I apologize for misinterpreting what you meant by your comment. I realize now that you do not think that sexually active women deserve to be punished in some way. I do not believe that having sex at a young age is “excused” by the powerful forces that drive us to do so. I am merely commenting that sexual desire is actually normal and healthy, and it doesn’t appear to amenable to abstinence-only messages, which carry a very real danger of their own. I am more in favor of complete and total education. For example, my kids knew where babies come from at ages 5 and 7; this is not to promote the concept that they should go make one themselves any time within the next 15 years.

  28. Yulia permalink

    Dear S.D., sorry for truobling you once more. But your proposition that people opposing “vaccination approach” as the mainstream politics in prevention STDs wish “punishments in some way” for “sex-active women” really surprized me. Following this logic, those who prevent of the danger of smoking or drugs also are “angry” persons, desiring “penalty” (lung cancer, liver deases, HIV and etc.) for these smokers and drug-users (among which the children of “angry individuals may occur as well). But is it really so?

    • I certainly do not think all people who oppose HPV vaccine wish punishments upon young, sexually active women, but some most certainly do. I have had opponents of HPV vaccine tell me that girls who get HPV were asking for it (as well as rape–yes, rape). I apologize for misunderstanding your comment, however, as I realize now that you are not one of them.

      • Yulia permalink

        Dear SD, I would like to thank you for some valuable information. Indeed, it was important for me to know that you consider anti-HPV vaccines rather safe. Because I worried about this. On the one hand I could not beleive the “anti-vaccine” crazy texts, but on the other hand people who are lobbying the introduction of these vaccines in Russia also do not inspire any confidence (this is a separate problem). And it is very difficult to know the truth. In general, I support the position of Dr. Miriam Grossman who said that these vaccines in principle is a “good scientific invention” but they “do not solve everything” and anti-HPV vaccination should be voluntary and supplied by good information. Dr. Diana Harper tells the same thing. In addition I would like to mention that our anti-vaccinators like to claim that in USA there are not introduced many vaccines included in Russian national vaccine list (anti-tuberculosis, anti-hepatits B for newborn). And the americain anti-vaccine movement serves as the “model” for russian ones. They like to translate english anti-vaccine texts into russian and frighten our parents. It seems that mental health risks connected with drawing into anti-vaccine movements is much higher vaccine risks both in USA and in Russia.

        • And I want to thank you as well, because you are exactly the type of person with whom I like to have a discussion. You have real and legitimate concerns about the limitations of the HPV vaccine, but you are also open-minded. And that is very much appreciated. The majority of people who seem to oppose vaccines in general and HPV vaccine in particular cannot articulate any rational reason for their position.

          I do agree that HPV vaccine, as it is now, cannot solve everything. But it is safe, and it is effective. And my position remains that HPV vaccine will be one of the greatest cancer prevention successes of all time. It will undoubtedly continue to evolve to prevent most, if not all, oncogenic HPV types. And this will save millions of women from everything from loss of fertility to loss of life. This will never preclude the need for good, honest information and education about sex, but it will prevent cancer. The women whose cancer did not happen because of the vaccine will never know, but that is who this is all for.

  29. Bryan permalink

    Your excuses are amazing. You have no problem that a 1-1/2 year trial was used to “prove” that HPV causes cancer (a disease that shows up decades after HPV infection), yet you totally ignore the evidence that aluminum is carcinogenic, although it is far stronger than that linking HPV to cervical cancer. I’m blown away by how you can spout such utter nonsense as medical truth.


    Dr. Diane Harper says young girls and their parents should receive more complete warnings before receiving the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. Dr. Harper helped design and carry out the Phase II and Phase III safety and effectiveness studies to get Gardasil approved, and authored many of the published, scholarly papers about it. She has been a paid speaker and consultant to Merck. It’s highly unusual for a researcher to publicly criticize a medicine or vaccine she helped get approved.

    “The risks of serious adverse events including death reported after Gardasil use in (the JAMA article by CDC’s Dr. Barbara Slade) were 3.4/100,000 doses distributed. The rate of serious adverse events on par with the death rate of cervical cancer. Gardasil has been associated with at least as many serious adverse events as there are deaths from cervical cancer developing each year. Indeed, the risks of vaccination are underreported in Slade’s article, as they are based on a denominator of doses distributed from Merck’s warehouse. Up to a third of those doses may be in refrigerators waiting to be dispensed as the autumn onslaught of vaccine messages is sent home to parents the first day of school. Should the denominator in Dr. Slade’s work be adjusted to account for this, and then divided by three for the number of women who would receive all three doses, the incidence rate of serious adverse events increases up to five fold. How does a parent value that information,” said Harper.

    Dr. Scott Ratner and his wife, who’s also a physician, expressed similar concerns as Dr. Harper in an interview with CBS News last year. One of their teenage daughters became severely ill after her first dose of Gardasil. Dr. Ratner says she’d have been better off getting cervical cancer than the vaccination. “My daughter went from a varsity lacrosse player at Choate to a chronically ill, steroid-dependent patient with autoimmune myofasciitis. I’ve had to ask myself why I let my eldest of three daughters get an unproven vaccine against a few strains of a nonlethal virus that can be dealt with in more effective ways.”

    Papilloma viruses are transmitted by sexual and other contacts, like the herpes viruses, and are widespread or “ubiquitous” in at least 50% of the adult population of the U.S. and Europe (3, 191). For example, using the PCR to amplify sequences of one particular strain of papilloma virus, 46% of 467 women in Berkeley, California, with a median age of 22 were found to carry HPV, but none of them had cervical cancer (199).

    In the U.S., the incidence of cervical cancer in all women, with and without HPV, per 70-year lifetime is about 1% (197). In a controlled study of age-matched women, 67% of those with cervical cancer and 43% of those without were found to be HPV-positive (198). The presence of HPV in no more than 67% of age-matched women with cervical cancer indicates that HPV is not necessary for cervical cancer. These cancers are also observed on average only 20-50 years after infection (191).

    The controlled study of age-matched women described above suggests that 52% of the women with cervical cancer were smokers compared to only 27% of those without (198)… By contrast only 13,000 cervical cancers are observed annually in both HPV-positive and -negative women in the U.S. (197). Indeed, the test may be harmful, considering the anxiety a positive result induces in believers of the virus-cancer hypothesis.

    Furthermore, there is no plausible mechanism for *how* HPV or any virus can cause cancer. Correlation (weak correlation, at that) does not equal causation. If HPV or fragments of it occurs in some cases of cervical cancer, it doesn’t mean it’s the cause. The active cell growth in cervical dysplasias could be what is causing the papilloma viruses to become active, not the other way around. Cervical cancer shows no sign of being infectious, and it utterly fails Koch’s Postulates.

    • Sorry Bryan. If you cannot even accept the proven, undisputed scientific fact that HPV causes cervical cancer, then you are a hopeless cause and are not worth a second more of my time. Your post is so completely misinformed as to be ludicrous.

    • guest permalink

      Zur Hausen won the Nobel Prize for proving HPV’s involvement in cervical cancer. The current U.S. death rate of cervical cancer is only low because of all the terrible ways we are able to prevent the HPV lesions from turning into something worse. This always involves removal of pieces of a woman’s sexual anatomy. If it is “just” a precancerous lesion, then it involves removing pieces of the cervix, which often results in scar tissue/thinning that can lead to infertility, miscarriages, premature births and – in the cases where scar tissue prevents dilation – C-sections. More advanced cases require removal of the uterus and cervix altogether, with the vagina sewn shut at the end like a sock. You might need chemo (fun) and radiation that can leave you incontinent. And of course, there are last ditch salvage operations to remove your abdominal organs. All this can happen to a cervical cancer patient without causing her death. So if you want to compare apples to apples, and HPV vaccine adverse events to HPV lesion adverse events, then you’d better add all this in. Preventing HPV infection matters.

  30. Bryan permalink

    P.S. – with regards to aluminum toxicity –

    Aluminum is neurotoxic, even in minute quantities, and has a long history of
    well-documented hazards.12,13 In 1927, Dr. Victor Vaughn, a toxicologist with the
    University of Michigan, testified before the Federal Trade Commission that “all
    salts of aluminum are poisonous when injected subcutaneously or intravenously.”14
    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Aluminum is now being
    implicated as interfering with a variety of cellular and metabolic processes in the
    nervous system and in other tissues.”15 This has led some researchers to speculate
    that aluminum may be linked to autism.16,17 Some evidence appears to support this
    possibility. For example, in 1997 the New England Journal of Medicine published
    data showing that premature babies injected with aluminum build up toxic
    levels in the blood, bones and brain, and that aluminum toxicity can lead to
    neurological damage, including mental handicaps at 18 months of age.18

    12. Zatta, P., et al. “Aluminum and health.” First International Conference on Metals and the Brain: from Neurochemistry to
    Neurodegeneration. University of Padova, Italy (Sep 20-23, 2000).
    13. Wisniewski, HM., et al. “Aluminum neurotoxicity in mammals.” Environmental Geochemistry and Health (March 1990);12(1-2):115-20.
    14. Ayoub, D. “Aluminum, vaccines and autism: déjà vu!” National Autism Association Annual Conference. Atlanta, GA. (Nov. 11, 2007).
    15. “Aluminum toxicity in infants and children (RE9607),” Pediatrics (March 1996); 97(3):413-416.
    16. See Note 14.
    17. Taylor, G. “It’s not just the mercury: aluminum hydroxide in vaccines.” Adventures in Autism (March 9, 2008). http://www.adventures
    18. Bishop, NJ., et al. “Aluminum neurotoxicity in preterm infants receiving intravenous-feeding solutions.” New England Journal of
    Medicine 1997;336(22):1557-62.

    ” The problem for Tomljenovic and Shaw is that the CDC has studied these VAERS reports in detail and has observed no unusual clustering of ANY serious adverse events after HPV vaccine.”

    Care to provide this data? Since Gardasil is not given at any particular uniform time to the population, how exactly was this supposedly determined? I find it (tragically) amusing that you write of VAERS adverse reactions as not being causally linked, but then you turn around and say that HPV causes cervical cancer based on pathetic “evidence”.

    “In addition, Tomljenovic and Shaw, a basic tenet of the placebo-controlled trial is that the placebo is IDENTICAL to the active drug, with one difference–the lack of the component being tested for efficacy, which in this case would be the HPV virus-like particle (VLP).”

    The entire vaccine that is given to people is what is being tested. Therefore, ALL the placebos should be PLACEBOS – saline solution. If the aluminum component was being tested, this would be acceptable, but it clearly wasn’t. The fact that you defend this shows your disgraceful bias.

    • Vaccines do not cause autism, period. If you want CDC data, then google it. Now go away.

    • #12: link is dead – no document found

      #13 deals with introducing aluminum to the CNS to see what happens. It also mentions that they have NOT FOUND high levels of aluminum which others have reported.

      Classic case of not reading the article, and just skimming the abstract. Typical anti-vaxxer.

      #14: a conference piece which is being hailed by Tenpenny,, etc? Why bother?

      #15: Nothing to do with vaccinations: it has to do with infants with impaired renal function or prematurity and their ability to excrete aluminum from their bodies. Specifically the aluminum in antacids, infant formula and IV solutions.

      Antacids, formula and IV solutions are a chronic source of aluminum. A vaccine is NOT. Your source has nothing to do with vaccinations.

      16: Because it’s referenced twice doesn’t mean it’s science or proof.

      17: A blog? Seriously? I’m sorry – where did you learn to research?

      18: Related to 15: this deals specifically with IV feeding of premature infants – an as was already mentioned, and IV is a chronic source – it’s there 24/7 until it’s removed. Comparing an IV source of aluminum and a vaccine source is apples and buffaloes.

      You have no proof. You’ve done the typical gish gallop of crap which is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

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