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HPV and the Vaccination Controversy

While preventing any instance of cancer is a good thing, many people don't like the idea of making this vaccine mandatory. Aside from the fact that the vaccine only covers 4 out of the 10 genital HPV strains associated with cervical cancer, it is also brand new - with no studies available on any potential long-term effects.

It's Labor Day Weekend, and the traditional dividing line between summer and fall. The days become just a little bit shorter, vacationers return to their jobs, and the kids return to school. For those who are parents, your thoughts may be turning to the question of annual vaccinations. And even for those of us who are not parents, the recent introduction of the HPV vaccine has made quite a splash - over the past few months, advertisements have been popping up everywhere, telling us about our risk of getting cervical cancer from this previously little-mentioned STD.HPV (or Human papillomavirus) is actually a group of viruses that includes more than 100 different strains. About 30 of these strains are sexually transmitted, and can infect the genital area in both men and women. Most strains of the virus are known as "low risk" and will usually clear up on their own, with no visible symptoms (though in some cases, the virus will be accompanied by genital warts - which will also usually clear up on their own, though medications to speed that process are available).According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:"All types of HPV can cause mild Pap test abnormalities which do not have serious consequences. Approximately 10 of the 30 identified genital HPV types can lead, in rare cases, to development of cervical cancer. Research has shown that for most women (90 percent), cervical HPV infection becomes undetectable within two years. Although only a small proportion of women have persistent infection, persistent infection with "high-risk" types of HPV is the main risk factor for cervical cancer.” (Emphasis added.)While the virus itself is increasingly common (at least 50% of sexually active men and women will acquire a genital HPV infection at some point), the instance of developing cervical cancer from the virus is actually fairly rare.So, then, why all the hype?Part of the controversy surrounding this vaccine stems from the actions of its parent company, Merck, pushing states to make this vaccine mandatory for all 11-12 year old girls, as the governor of Texas tried to do (he later backed down). The company states that the vaccine is most effective in girls and women who have never had any of the four strains of HPV that are covered by the vaccine, therefore, it's important to inoculate women before they become sexually active.While preventing any instance of cancer is a good thing, many people don't like the idea of making this vaccine mandatory. Aside from the fact that the vaccine only covers 4 out of the 10 genital HPV strains associated with cervical cancer, it is also brand new - with no studies available on any potential long-term effects. And as we all know, our bodies will see changes and effects from anything we put into them - whether food, herbal tonics, drugs or vaccinations. With many foods and herbs, we have thousands of years of observed effects to tell us what the likely benefits and risks might be - not so with many drugs and even "tried and true" vaccinations; they simply haven't been around long enough for us to know.Vaccinations in generalThere has been a growing awareness in recent years of some of the dangers of vaccines - the most publicized of which has revolved around the use of mercury (a toxic substance) as a preservative in many vaccines. There have been growing reports of side effects and complications resulting from even non-mercury formulations (including 385 reported cases for the HPV vaccine, as of February 2007).Our takeFrom an LSW perspective, our position is - as always - one of EMPOWERMENT. YOUR empowerment. The most important thing you can do for yourself and your health is to become an informed consumer. Research the pros and cons of any medical procedure you are considering. Understand the benefits and the potential risks, BEYOND what your doctor or "the authorities" tell you.Going on a trip to a foreign country? You will likely be told you need a slew of vaccinations. Research for yourself what you are likely to be exposed to in the areas you're visiting, and you may be surprised to find that you need far fewer than you’d been told.Thinking about the HPV vaccine? (It's currently been approved for women up to age 26.) Either way is okay, but first - educate yourself, and then decide what YOU feel is best for YOU.Tell us what you thinkShare your thoughts and feelings and even questions on this controversial topic in our comments section below, and an LSW counselor will respond!Laughing Sage Wellness is committed to helping women become their own best experts on their bodies and their health. After allFree Web Content, who knows you better than YOU?www.laughingsagewellness.com

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


About Alisa

Laughing Sage Wellness Group was founded by Alisa Vitti, a Certified Holistic Health Counselor (AADP). Alisa is committed to empowering clients to reconnect with the wisdom of their bodies. She received degrees from Johns Hopkins University and the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She has taught at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and lectures regularly at Beth Israel Medical Practices and Westerly Health Foods in Manhattan.  She travels nationally, reaching out to women who are ready to create vibrant health and amazing futures for themselves. She specializes in the areas of reproductive and hormonal health and creating real intimacy in relationships.



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