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HPV Vaccine: Risk vs. benefit for preventing cervical cancer

Reposted from:

The Illness: The Human Papillomavirus and risk of cervical cancer

HPV is a virus that causes genital warts, which are spread through sexual contact. There are about 200 strains of the virus which differ in both their ability to cause warts and their ability to cause the cellular dysregulation that can lead to cervical cancer. Fortunately, the body is able to clear this viral infection with no adverse consequences in upwards of 90% of people. When HPV does not clear on its own, infected tissues only turn into cancer in 0.15% of the individuals who are unable to clear the infection over a timeframe of 10 years. Cervical cancer is a very slow-progressing cancer. Importantly, pap smears are a highly effective method of identifying lesions that could develop into cervical cancer and treatment is available for these lesions.

Cost/ Benefit Analysis: Risk for cervical cancer is very low in the United States. Cervical cancers only represent 0.7% of all new cancer cases. Approximately 2 in 100,000 women die of cervical cancer each year. As mentioned above, it is generally very slow growing and easily identified with a pap smear and easily treated when caught early. The effectiveness of the HPV vaccines was not assessed by measuring their impact on the development of cancer because that would have required years of follow-up.   Instead, efficacy was measure by the ability of the vaccine to prevent the development of abnormal cells after exposure to HPV strains covered by the vaccine. Because the vaccines are only made to the most common strains of genital warts, the virus continues to mutate and produce new variants that may or may not be found to be associated with the development of cervical cancer.

Safety of the Gardasil vaccine is a major concern, with a total of 67,550 adverse events recorded in VAERS as of November 25, 2002. Prior to the onset addition of COVID vaccines, an analysis of the VAERS database by Tomljenovic et. al. (2013) showed that HPV vaccination was associated with more than 60% of all life-threatening adverse reactions and 82% of all reported permanent disability in females under 30 years of age. As a matter of fact, so many legitimate adverse events were reported post vaccination with Gardasil that the American College of Pediatricians felt prompted in 2016 to issue a statement describing their concerns, particularly related to the risks of ovarian failure and autoimmune association with the adjuvant used in Gardasil and demanding more safety research be done. Merck, itself, acknowledges the vaccine-induced autoimmune risk in the product’s medical insert, stating that “2.2% of Gardasil 9 recipients reported new medical conditions potentially indicative of systemic autoimmune disorders”. Other safety signals include multiple sclerosis, ALS, paralysis, GBS, convulsions, chronic fatigue syndrome, autonomic dysregulation, damage to the nervous system, anaphylaxis, thrombocytopenia, vasculitis, menstrual issues, pulmonary embolism and death.

As was noted above, many of the systemic reactions associated with the HPV vaccine may be related to the nanoparticulate amorphous aluminum adjuvant that is used in them to stimulate a strong immune response. Given that there is another method of preventing cervical cancer through non-invasive Pap screenings, and given the high rate of adverse events and the potential for post-vaccination ovarian failure and autoimmune disorders, the HPV vaccine is almost all risk with little to no benefit.

The Vaccines: HPV vaccine is a vaccine that uses protein subunits of 9 strains of the virus, which are made and obtained using recombinant DNA techniques.

Age Given: 3 doses between 9-14 years of age

Package Insert information can be found here. FDA Product Approval: View All (

Information concerning adverse events can be found in section 6, which contains information on the clinical trials as well as the post-marketing data.

Vaccine ingredients: Gardasil (Merck)

  • Proteins from 9 strains of HPV

  • Aluminum (as Amorphous Aluminum Hydroxyphosphate Sulfate or AAHS) – 500 micrograms

  • Saline solution

  • L-histidine (an amino acid)

  • Yeast proteins

  • Sodium Borate- 35 micrograms

  • Polysorbate 80- 50 micrograms


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