HPV Vaccine Risks vs. Benefits: Is It Worth It?

A group of infected HPV cells on the bottom right with healthy cells on the top left. Photo by Ed Uthman

The HPV vaccine is controversial – do the risks outweigh the potential benefits?

A new study concludes that you’re better off without HPV vaccination.

About HPV

Genital human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are more than 40 different types of HPV that can infect the genital area.

Most HPV infections have no symptoms (asymptomatic).

Some can cause cervical cancer, like HPV types 16 and 18. HPV types 16 and 18 are also associated with other types of cancers in men and women (penile, vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancers).

Low –risk HPV types 6 and 11 are the cause of genital warts and respiratory papillomatosis (a disease where tumors continue to grow in the respiratory tract despite treatment).

HPV Vaccine Not Necessary?

There are two HPV vaccines. The first vaccine (known as Cervarix) targets HPV types 16 and 18. The second vaccine (known as Gardasil) targets HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18. Physicians are recommending that females and males (ages 9 to 26) get the Gardasil vaccine in order to prevent HPV infection. However, a recent study published in the Current Pharmaceutical Design Journal examined the effectiveness and safety of the HPV vaccine and concluded that there is a better option than the vaccine.

HPV Vaccine Worth The Risks?

The study entitled, “Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines as an Option for Preventing Cervical Malignancies: (How) Effective and Safe?” reviewed trials to find out if the vaccine was effective and safe. Researchers found that the HPV clinical trial design and the data interpretation (of safety and effectiveness) were inadequate. Through their research, they also found that the clinical trials data has demonstrated that the vaccines have not prevented a single case of cervical cancer. Researchers also suggest that the safety of the vaccine is based on a flawed design of safety trials, and conclude that instead of relying on a vaccine; that cervical screenings should be used since they are less risky and can actually detect cervical cancer.

HPV Research: Interview

Decoded Science contacted Lucija Tomljenovicat, PhD from the University of British Columbia about her research, and asked her what she would tell parents of young men and women who are considering getting the HPV vaccine. She says,

It can be difficult to get accurate information solely from health agencies or the pharmaceutical company. The main reason for this is that health authorities exclusively rely on the information provided by the drug manufacturer for giving recommendation to the public. This practice is disturbing to say the least, especially in the light of independent research which has repeatedly warned that drug companies may manipulate clinical trial designs and subsequent data analysis and reporting to make their drugs look better and safer. The reporting of results from clinical trials on HPV vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix illustrates this point.”

Click to Read Page Two: HPV Has Not Prevented a Single Case of Cancer?

© Copyright 2012 Janelle Vaesa, MPH, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Science
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  1. T says

    Its interesting how anyone who talks about the benefits of HPV can’t handle there is a down side. People are having adverse reactions to to various vaccines and having to live “damaged”. No not everyone, but the last I checked, a life is valuable. Thousands are people are hurting, just by doing what the government and medical community are mandating and advising they do. It just isnt fair.

    How would you feel if you did everything right, take your child to the doctor healthy and within hours, days or months…bam their sick, disabled or worse dead. Is there really harm in asking for clinical studies and the truth? Lets not be so nieve.

  2. She'll ell says

    Please let people speak their mind. This is a free country after all. They have some merit to their title even if they are not the end all of decision making. I for one appreciate the pros and cons of it all. I am in the midst of making the vaccine decision my self and have not exactly made up my mind.

    One point of view is that although it MIGHT prevent cervical cancer, there are risks and it sounds like the studies weren’t completely forthcoming making it hard to make a proper decision. On the con side…I have to ask myself whether it is worth THE RISK of possible neurological damage IF it were to occur, or even POSSIBLE death. I could be completely fine and wipe my forehead in relief and call it a day, but what if it’s not,Not to be PARANOID, what IF I did that to myself? Does the risk outway the POSSIBLE consequences? That is what I and all of you have to decide for YOURSELF.

    On the flip side, if you are sexually active, have a history in your family, or want to take that risk, by all means do so, and I will stand behind your decision. The important thing is you do your own research and make a choice that is not pushed on you by a doctor, a nurse, government, or anyone else, including even family. I wish you all good health and good decisions right for your body.

  3. joe says

    Please stop spreading pseudoscientific nonsense. You quote a post-doctoral PhD fellow as though she’s a leading authority in the field. The role of HPV in cervical cancer is unequivocal as is the ability of appropriate vaccination to prevent HPV infection. Your nonsense is putting a great many girls at risk of a serious disease. Incidences of diseases once under control like whooping cough are now epidemic due to parents who listen to anti-vaccine pseudoscience. Please stop putting children at risk.

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