HPV Vaccine Risks vs. Benefits: Is It Worth It?


Home / HPV Vaccine Risks vs. Benefits: Is It Worth It?

A group of infected HPV cells on the bottom right with healthy cells on the top left. Photo by Ed Uthman

The HPV vaccine is controversial – do the risks outweigh the potential benefits?

A new study concludes that you’re better off without HPV vaccination.

About HPV

Genital human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are more than 40 different types of HPV that can infect the genital area.

Most HPV infections have no symptoms (asymptomatic).

Some can cause cervical cancer, like HPV types 16 and 18. HPV types 16 and 18 are also associated with other types of cancers in men and women (penile, vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancers).

Low –risk HPV types 6 and 11 are the cause of genital warts and respiratory papillomatosis (a disease where tumors continue to grow in the respiratory tract despite treatment).

HPV Vaccine Not Necessary?

There are two HPV vaccines. The first vaccine (known as Cervarix) targets HPV types 16 and 18. The second vaccine (known as Gardasil) targets HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18. Physicians are recommending that females and males (ages 9 to 26) get the Gardasil vaccine in order to prevent HPV infection. However, a recent study published in the Current Pharmaceutical Design Journal examined the effectiveness and safety of the HPV vaccine and concluded that there is a better option than the vaccine.

HPV Vaccine Worth The Risks?

The study entitled, “Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines as an Option for Preventing Cervical Malignancies: (How) Effective and Safe?” reviewed trials to find out if the vaccine was effective and safe. Researchers found that the HPV clinical trial design and the data interpretation (of safety and effectiveness) were inadequate. Through their research, they also found that the clinical trials data has demonstrated that the vaccines have not prevented a single case of cervical cancer. Researchers also suggest that the safety of the vaccine is based on a flawed design of safety trials, and conclude that instead of relying on a vaccine; that cervical screenings should be used since they are less risky and can actually detect cervical cancer.

HPV Research: Interview

Decoded Science contacted Lucija Tomljenovicat, PhD from the University of British Columbia about her research, and asked her what she would tell parents of young men and women who are considering getting the HPV vaccine. She says,

It can be difficult to get accurate information solely from health agencies or the pharmaceutical company. The main reason for this is that health authorities exclusively rely on the information provided by the drug manufacturer for giving recommendation to the public. This practice is disturbing to say the least, especially in the light of independent research which has repeatedly warned that drug companies may manipulate clinical trial designs and subsequent data analysis and reporting to make their drugs look better and safer. The reporting of results from clinical trials on HPV vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix illustrates this point.”

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