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Gardasil For Boys: FDA Recommends Controversial Vaccine

Posted Sep 11 2009 10:50pm

The FDA is recommending Gardasil for boys, saying in a memo that it seems to be safe and effective in preventing genital warts in young men and boys. And guess what! None of the boys tested got cervical cancer! Kidding.

The vaccine’s maker, Merck, has been pushing for males to be offered the shot too, and gave the FDA evidence that, according to CBS,

Three studies of over 5,000 boys and men, Gardasil was 89% effective in preventing genital warts.

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On the CBS news segment, Dr. Holly Phillips also seemed pleased with the new Gardasil recommendation, saying that,

The vaccine cuts down on genital warts, and although those may not be life-threatening, they can certainly be embarrassing.

Soo …we should give our boys the Gardasil shot to prevent their pride being wounded by treatable genital warts? Might teaching them to use protection– which we should do in any case for anyone who receives this vaccine –also protect them from embarrassing STDs?

Later in life, there is also a connection with HPV and throat and anal cancer.

That statement interested me. We could reduce the risk of not just one cancer, but three? Turns out, of the 1,479,350 estimated cases of cancer this year, less than 5,300 of them are cases of anal cancer. The rate of throat cancer is higher, but smoking is the big culprit in those 12,610 cases.

Huh. Sounds like boys getting the shot to prevent these two types of cancers is right up there with circumcising a boy for the 2% risk of penile cancer he’ll someday have.

But what about cervical cancer? If both males and females are vaccinated against HPV, won’t it protect most women against cancer? Well, not exactly.

First, the vaccine only protects against two types (of 15) of the cancer-causing strains of HPV.

Second, we don’t know how long Gardasil is actually effective for. If we give 3 shots to middle school kids, will they be protected once they hit their wild college years?

No word yet on how long-term these studies were. Why might that be an issue? Because recently, one of the top researchers of Gardasil, someone who was very involved in promoting the vaccine, spoke out against it.

Dr. Diane Harper said of the vaccine and its safety:

Gardasil has been associated with at least as many serious adverse events as there are deaths from cervical cancer developing each year.

If we vaccinate 11-year-olds and the protection doesn’t last… we’ve put them at harm from side effects, small but real, for no benefit.

This isn’t simply a case of giving boys a vaccine to protect girls against cancer. I believe in the greater good.

But currently, we have no idea if this vaccine protects members of either gender from HPV past 5 years. Is that reason enough to get almost $400 worth of shots into every middle schooler we know?

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