Health News: Autism, Mastectomies, and HPV Vaccine
Posted by Catherine Morgan on March 8, 2008
In Health News: Autism Debate, Drive-Thru Mastectomies, and the HPV Vaccine (Gardasil).
When I heard this story, about a family with a child who appeared to developed Autism after her childhood immunizations, I wondered how this might affect other families dealing with this devastating disease. Also in the blogs, is a petition that women can sign, supporting an end to drive-thru mastectomies. And end they should, this practice is a disgrace, as well as a travesty against women. And, my pet-peeve issue (Gardasil) is also in the news.
This week news spread of results of a Georgia court case in November, which states that the parents of 9-year old Hannah Poling will receive compensation because multiple vaccines contributed to her symptoms of autism. Not all the details are known, as the court case has been “sealed,” but it appears that Hannah has an underlying mitochondrial disorder. After she received five shots in July 2000, at the age of 19 months, she developed a high fever and inconsolable crying within 48 hours. Within three months after receiving the vaccine, she went from being a normal, verbal toddler to one who showed signs of autism and, for a while, lost her ability to speak. She now requires one-on-one care at all times.
Stop Drive Thru Mastectomies….
“Desperate Housewives” star Marcia Cross joined Lifetime, Senator Landrieu (D-LA) and Representatives DeLauro (D-CT) and Moran (R-KS), at a Capitol Hill press conference to give voice to the 20 million signatures collected on myLifetime.com urging Congress to end the practice of “drive-through” mastectomies, when women are forced to leave the hospital following their physically and emotionally difficult breast cancer surgeries before they and their doctors may feel they are ready to go home.
Caught your attention, didn’t I? “Be My Support, Be My Strength, Be My Bra” is Lifetime Television‘s saying/blurb/catch phrase in for the fight against breast cancer. I just love it.
I also came across this blog…The On Going Life of Just a Gal with Breast Cancer
The HPV Vaccine…
Then we have my number one pet-peeve health and wellness issue…The HPV Vaccine. Touted as the Cervical Cancer Vaccine (Gardasil)…it is really an HPV prevention medication, using our children as mandatory test subjects. This is a vaccine that would be a life saver to people in developing countries, who have little access to PAP tests for prevention. But Merck’s only concern is with the money they can make by convincing our government to make this vaccine mandatory.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines hold great promise for preventing cervical cancer, but 93 percent of mortality worldwide occurs in low- and middle-income countries, where high vaccine costs can restrict dissemination.
The man who pioneered the first cancer vaccine says cervical cancer deaths in Australia could be negligible if all Australian women took part in pap smear programs.
Professor Ian Frazer was named Australian of the Year in 2006 in recognition of his work with the vaccine, which has a success rate of up to 70 per cent.
But Professor Frazer says women should no longer feel anxious about cervical cancer.
“In this country cervical cancer is well down the list of cancer deaths now because we have such an effective pap smear program and indeed if all women in Australia took part in the pap smear program according to the government recommendations we’d hardly have a death from cervical cancer,” he said.
“Worldwide, cervical cancer is actually increasing and is the second commonest or commonest cause of cancer death in women in most countries in the world.”
HPV Vaccine Researchers Criticizes Marketing
A researcher who has spent 20 years studying human papillomavirus (HPV) and did the bulk of the work that was used to develop a vaccine for several strains of the virus has warned that mandating the vaccine for girls under the age of 18 may actually backfire, causing cervical cancer rates to go up.
Twenty-six states are considering some form of mandatory HPV vaccination for school-age girls.
Diane M. Harper, director of Dartmouth Medical School’s Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in New Hampshire, warned that there have been no tests of the vaccine’s effectiveness on girls under the age of 15. The drug may not be effective on younger girls, and it may have unforeseen side effects or interactions with other vaccines given at that age. Nonetheless, the Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended it for ages 9-26.
“Giving it to 11-year-olds is a great big public health experiment,” Harper said. “To mandate now is simply to Merck’s benefit, and only to Merck’s benefit.”
The HPV vaccine produced by Merck protects against two strains of the virus that have been identified as responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. But with the way the drug is being marketed, Harper is concerned that vaccinated women may decide that they are immune, and forego their yearly Pap smear testing.
Harper also warned that the vaccine is ineffective if given to someone who is already infected — and because HPV is spread by skin-to-skin contact, a person does not have to be sexually active to contract it. For this reason, Harper suggests giving the vaccine only to those who test negative for the targeted HPV strains.
The HPV test is conducted by vaginal swab, which Harper says is inappropriate for children.
Finally, Harper warned that not enough research has been done to know how long the vaccine lasts, or at what age a booster may be needed. This means that even if the vaccine is effective in young girls, it may have worn off by the age at which they are most susceptible to cervical cancer.
“The push for mandatory vaccination is based on marketing, not science,” added Mike Adams, author of numerous articles that oppose mandatory vaccination policies. “It’s nothing but a clever Big Pharma scheme to sell more drugs to yet more people who don’t need them.”