To Gardisil or Not?
I have been closely following the news on the cervical cancer vaccine known as Gardisil. Cervical cancer is the most prevalent cancer among women according to the WHO (World Health Organization). Cervical cancer is responsible for over a quarter million deaths every year. But it is important to note - 85% of those are in developing countries. I'll get back to this number in a minute.
What's important to understand is that the cause of cervical cancer is a sexually transmitted microbe known as HPV or the human papillomavirus. Many newsworthy cancers such as breast cancer or prostate cancer have a genetic predisposition and are not caused by a virus.
For the past few years, when our three daughters had their annual physicals, our doctor would gently encourage us to consider giving them the Gardisil vaccine. The information they provided was sparse, mainly a small brochure. So when my oldest daughter was ready to enter college, we thought this was a no-brainer. Without question, and at the advice of our doctor, we proceeded to have it administered. After all, if you could prevent a disease such as cancer for your child, you would, wouldn't you?
Unfortunately her experience with the first of the three shot series was alarming. To be fair, she did have a meningitis vaccine during the same visit. But as soon as the Gardisil shot was administered, she quickly lost all color to her face and became faint. She was nauseous, dizzy, cold, and complained of a strange "buzzing" feeling all over. For over 15 minutes, she could not get up from the gurney. This was when I realized I could not take the advice of a doctor without question. I had to take a front seat and do more research before giving in to a doctor's recommendation. I have two other daughters to consider.
So, back to that number at the beginning of this article. If 85% of cervical deaths are in developing countries, what percent are in the United States? Figures from the National Cervical Cancer Coalition show about 11%, or about 11,000 females are diagnosed with cervical cancer, which results in about 4,000 deaths annually. There are roughly 15 million females in the country, so this number is a scarce .00027 of that population.Continued on the next page