HPV has been found in a variety of human cancers, such as cancer of the mouth, tongue, tonsil, esophagus, lung, breast, liver, colon, lymphoma, and in skin cancers and in healthy skin. Evidence suggests that cancer could be a communicable and/or a sexually transmitted disease. How effective is it then to forcibly inoculate young women?
By Alan Cantwell, M.D.
Is cancer a sexually transmitted disease (STD)? A generation ago physicians insisted that cancer was not contagious or infectious, and couldn’t be transmitted by coughing, sneezing, or any kind of physical contact.
Now all this has changed. Public health authorities are pushing for a mandatory vaccine called Gardasil for girls as young as 11 years of age to prevent infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV)—the sexually transmitted virus believed to cause cancer of the cervix (the lower portion of the uterus).
Why haven’t physicians informed the public about the sex connection to cancer? What do doctors really know about HPV and its cancer risk to women, particularly 11 year-old girls? Is the proposed mandatory HPV vaccine just another way to make drug companies richer? And is the vaccine proven to prevent cervical cancer?
There are about 100 types or “strains” of HPV, more commonly known as “the wart virus.” A few dozen types can be passed sexually to infect the genital and anal area of both sexes. Only a small number of HPV strains are involved in cervical cancer, with “type 16” causing half the cases.
HPV is the most common STD in the U.S. At least 50% of sexually active people get HPV some time in their lives; and the virus is highly prevalent in sexually active men. An estimated 6.2 million Americans are newly infected with HPV every year.
Manufactured by Merck and Co., Gardasil is a series of three shots given over a period of six months at a cost of $380—the most expensive vaccine ever made. The vaccine is promoted as a prevention of cervical cancer, pre-cancerous genital lesions, and genital warts due to HPV.
In reality, the vaccine only protects against the four types of HPV that cause 70% of the cervical cancers. Thus, nearly one out of three cancers will not be prevented. Gardasil does not treat existing HPV infections, and it doesn’t work for women exposed to the virus before getting the vaccine. The vaccine is currently approved for females from age 11 to 26 years of age, and it is not recommended for pregnant women.
In order for the immunity to continue, booster shots are recommended every 5 years. Most significantly, the vaccine does not take the place of routine cervical cancer screening tests, such as the Pap test, which costs about $50.
Cervical Cancer in Women
Cervical cancer in the U.S. is a rare and preventable disease. Despite the vaccine hoopla, the rates for cervical cancer in the U.S. have been steadily declining since 1975, not as the result of a decrease in sexual partners, but as a result of the efficacy of continuing cancer screening by use of the Pap smear test.
Each year roughly 12,000 American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer; and 4,000 die from it. It is important to recognize that infection with HPV is very common, but cervical cancer is rare. Ten times as many women die of breast cancer, and twice as many die of leukemia. It is not cancer, but AIDS, that is the leading killer of African-American women. More than one million Americans are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Among those groups who are at statistically high risk for dying from cervical cancer are southern black women, Hispanic women living along the Texas-Mexican border, white women in Appalachia and the rural Northeast, and Vietnamese immigrants. These groups are also more likely to be poor and unable to afford quality medical care.
Vaccine makers would like the public to believe that HPV is spread only through sex. However, studies suggest HPV is common in little girls. HPV can infect a newborn passing through the birth canal of an infected mother, or by close contact of a child with another, either by sexual or non-sexual contact.
The possibility that HPV infection is acquired early in life via the mouth or even the respiratory tract cannot be ruled out. There is also likelihood that HPV can be spread through blood. HPV has been commonly found in the urine of young girls, as well as in semen.
HPV in Men
Most sexually active men carry HPV. The virus is the cause of penile warts, and HPV infection can lead to an increased risk for penile and anal cancer. Although millions of men carry HPV on their skin, it is rare for men to get penile and anal cancer. Only one man in 100,000 will die of penile cancer; and it is predicted that anal cancer will kill 690 American men in 2007. (More than a half-million Americans have already died of AIDS.) However, penile cancer is much more common in parts of Africa and South America, where it accounts for up to 10% of cancers in men.
Several hundred men with penile cancer were studied in a 1990 Finnish experiment, along with their spouses. Only two of the wives were found to have cervical cancer. Amazingly, the incidence was the same for a similar-size group of women whose husbands did not have penile cancer. The study concluded:
The incidence of condylomas (genital warts) has increased during the recent decades, while that of carcinomas of the penis and uterine cervix has decreased. The results of this study did not support the hypothesis that wives of men with penile cancer incur an increased risk of carcinoma of the cervix uteri. Although there is much evidence from a large number of studies that human papilloma virus (HPV) has a role in the etiology of cervical cancer, our study suggests that HPV associated with genital malignancies has a low infectivity or that these cancers have multifactor etiology.
Despite this study, sexual partners of patients with anogenital cancer should be carefully examined for cancer.
There is no way for a woman to be sure that a man is or isn’t infected with HPV. Many penile warts cannot be detected without a special examination, and many men carry HPV on “normal” skin. The most important thing any woman can do to decrease her risk of acquiring cancer of the cervix is to undergo regular Pap testing. Physicians also advise women to limit their numbers of sexual partners, and to delay the onset of sexual activity.
Unfortunately, condoms do not prevent HPV infection. Condoms protect against certain transmitted diseases like HIV infection, but they do not lower the risk for cervical cancer. However, studies indicate circumcision helps protect men from HPV and their wives from cervical cancer. Circumcision is now also recommended in third-world countries as a way to lower the risk of HIV as well.
Acquiring an STD does not necessarily indicate a person is “promiscuous.” The more lottery tickets you buy the more likely you are to win the lottery. Similarly, the more sexual partners the more likely one is to contract an STD.
The word “promiscuous” is often tossed around in a demeaning way, and the word is rarely defined. My dermatology professor used to say a promiscuous person is someone who has had more sexual partners than you have. A promiscuous person is often regarded as having “casual sex.” But a virus (or any other sexually transmitted infectious agent) doesn’t care if the sex is casual or not casual.
Cervical Cancer and Bacteria
There is evidence that HPV alone does not cause cervical cancer and that other “co-factors” are necessary. HPV vaccine makers downplay this research.
Because HPV infection rarely leads to cancer, some investigators suspect that cervical cancer must have a multi-factor etiology. Back in the 1980s many physicians thought the “herpes simplex virus-2” was the cause of cervical cancer. Nowadays, some think it is still a significant factor in some cases. In the U.S., 25% of the general population is infected with HSV-2.
In a recent development, it has been found that bacteria and yeast organisms present in the vagina can make a difference in testing for HPV infection. Apparently the detection of HPV DNA is influenced by the composition of vaginal non-viral microbes prevalent at the time of testing.
The question of whether infectious “cancer bacteria” are implicated in cancer is something that I have studied throughout my professional career. There is a century of research linking bacteria to cancer (and more recently to AIDS), but unfortunately this has been entirely ignored by the cancer establishment and by virologists. I wrote about this cancer microbe research in my three books, AIDS: The Mystery and the Solution (1984), The Cancer Microbe (1990) and in Four Women Against Cancer (2005). These cancer-associated bacteria (which also have a virus-like growth stage) have been demonstrated in breast cancer, prostate cancer, various forms of lymphoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma (the “gay cancer” of AIDS) and in AIDS-damaged tissue at autopsy, and in other chronic diseases (Google: cancer bacteria or cancer microbe for details).
Years ago my friend and mentor Virginia Livingston, M.D. wrote in her book, Cancer: A New Breakthrough (1972), that care should be taken in the sexual arena. She advised people “to not have physical relations except with your mate” because of her research showing that cancer was a disease caused by infectious bacteria. At the time her words were considered absolute nonsense and totally out of touch with the sexual mores of the 70s, and Livingston was widely accused of being a quack by her colleagues. When she attempted to boost the immune system of cancer patients with vaccines made from the patient’s own bacteria, she was harassed by the medical authorities. Now Livingston’s old “heresy” promoting cancer as an infection is the current vogue of virologists and vaccine makers.
A recent Italian study stressed the importance of vaginal bacteria as a possible co-factor in cancer. Ureaplasma urealyticum is a “mycoplasma-like” (virus-like) bacterium generally ignored by cancer researchers. The Italian scientists wrote: “The presence of a high Ureaplasma urealyticum level seems to be a cofactor of HPV infection, a necessary cause of precancerous lesions of the uterine cervix.”
HPV In Many Human Cancers
In addition to anogenital cancers, HPV has been found in head and neck cancers, the sixth most common form of cancer in the U.S. A PubMed Internet search of HPV in other cancers indicates that HPV has been found in a variety of human cancers, such as cancer of the mouth, tongue, tonsil, esophagus, lung, breast, liver, colon, lymphoma, and in skin cancers and in healthy skin. Evidence suggests that cancer could be a communicable and/or a sexually transmitted disease.
This view is at odds with what the medical profession has been telling people—that is, until recently. However, the infectious nature of cancer is exactly what cancer microbe researchers have been proclaiming since the late nineteenth century, as reported in my book, The Cancer Microbe. The finding of ubiquitous viruses also suggests there is some unrecognized relationship between bacteria in cancer and the widespread presence of various viruses in cancer.
Hidden Dangers of Vaccines
It is becoming more and more impossible to sue for damages in the event of a serious vaccine-induced reaction. Vaccine manufacturers are now protected by a tort liability shield granting them immunity from potential liability in the event of a declared public health emergency. The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, signed by George W. Bush in December 2005, removed the right to a jury trial for persons injured by a covered vaccine. No vaccine is 100% safe, as the following brief survey shows:
- Vaccines can easily become contaminated with viruses, bacteria and mycoplasma. During the flu season in 2004 almost half of that year’s flu vaccine supply was withdrawn from the market due to bacterial contamination.
- During the mandatory polio vaccine programs in the 1950s, half the U.S. population was infected with a cancer-causing monkey virus (simian virus 40) that accidentally contaminated the polio vaccine.
- During the “swine flu” scare of February 1976, millions of Americans were urged to take a vaccine against it. The swine flu pandemic never happened, but the extensive vaccine program was halted in January 1977 after 500 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a serious polio-like syndrome, occurred in vaccine recipients. There were 25 deaths from the syndrome and the federal government had to eventually pay out $90 million dollars in damages from the lawsuits.
- A few physicians believe that the HIV/AIDS epidemic originated exclusively in gay men due to the contamination of the experimental hepatitis B vaccine (also made by Merck and Co.), which was inoculated into thousands of gay male volunteers prior to the outbreak of AIDS and the “introduction” of HIV into that population in 1979 (see, Cantwell, Queer Blood).
- Vaccines have also been reported to be surreptitiously laced with anti-fertility drugs and administered to childbearing women in third world countries. Millions of Mexican, Nicaraguan, and Filipino women were duped into taking tetanus vaccines, some of which contained a female hormone (hCG) capable of causing miscarriage and sterilization. In 1995, a Catholic human rights organization called Human Life International accused the World Health Organization of promoting a Canadian-made tetanus vaccine containing the pregnancy hormone hCG (see my article, “Vexing over vaccines,” paranoiamagazine.com).
- Side effects of Gardasil already include several post-vaccination cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, as reported on the National Vaccine Information Center website.
Is the HPV vaccine proven effective?
Conflict of interest: it was discovered that his Chief of Staff was on the board of Merck. Update this paragraph?[On Feb 2, 2007, Governor Rick Perry of Texas issued an executive order requiring all 11 and 12 year-old girls to receive the new HPV vaccine. Perry claims, “Never before have we had an opportunity to prevent cancer with a simple vaccine.” This actually is not true. Merck’s hepatitis B vaccine, used since the 1980s, was heralded as a vaccine to prevent liver cancer. However, each year more deaths from liver cancer are reported. ]
In an adolescent girl, the development of cervical cancer can take a half-century or longer to develop. The only way to prove the vaccine is effective is to determine the actual cancer rate over a very long period of time. Because the HPV vaccine maker recommends that Pap tests be done regularly during these decades, how will it be possible to determine that the vaccine “alone” is effective?
Furthermore, there is no current plan to vaccinate men for HPV. It seems premature to mandate a vaccine for all females and ignore the male half of the population.
There has been a backlash against the lobbying efforts of Merck to push for mandatory vaccination in Texas. Time will tell whether the vaccine will indeed be mandatory for all young American women, and whether all eligible women will be able to afford it and to receive it.
It seems reasonable to educate the population regarding HPV infection and the risk for cancer, and to guarantee vaccine safety and medical care for possible vaccine injuries before the vaccine is injected into millions of American women.
©2007, Alan Cantwell, M.D. Dr. Cantwell, a retired dermatologist, is the author of The Cancer Microbe: The Hidden Killer in Cancer, AIDS, and Other Immune Diseases, and Four Women Against Cancer: Bacteria, Cancer and the Origin of Life, both published by Aries Rising Press, PO Box 29532, Los Angeles, CA 90029 (www.ariesrisingpress.com). His books are available from Amazon.com and Book Clearing House at 1-800-431-1579. Email: [email protected]
Castellsague X, Diaz M, de Sanjose S, Munoz N, Herrero R,Franceschi S, PeelingRW, Ashley R, Smith JS, Snijders PJ, Meijer CJ, Bosch FX; International Agency for Research on Cancer Multicenter Cervical Cancer Study Group. Worldwide human papillomavirus etiology of cervical adenocarcinoma and its cofactors: implications for screening and prevention. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2006 Mar 1;98(5):303-15.
Lukic A, Canzio C, Patella A, Giovagnoli M, Cipriani P, Frega A,Moscarini M. Determination of cervicovaginal microorganisms in women with abnormal cervical cytology: the role of Ureaplasma urealyticum. Anticancer Res. 2006 Nov-Dec;26(6C):4843-9.
McNicol P, Paraskevas M, Guijon F. Variability of polymerase chain reaction-based detection of human papillomavirus DNA is associated with the composition of vaginal microbial flora. J Med Virol.1994 Jun;43(2):194-200.
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