Saturday, April 26, 2008

Adding to our collection of posts about Gardasil and the HPV vaccine is the news that HPV is one of two viral links to lung cancer. Two new studies suggest that viruses - specifically, HPV and measles - can significantly boost a smoker's already serious risk of developing non-small cell lung cancer. Almost 90% of the over 200,000 cases of lung cancer that will be diagnosed in the United States this year are typed non-small cell lung cancer, and it tends to be a highly malignant version of cancer to end up with.
Both findings were presented Friday by separate research teams attending the European Lung Cancer Conference in Geneva.

"In terms of HPV, our finding is pretty controversial," said study author Dr. Arash Rezazadeh, a fellow of medical oncology and hematology at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. "And this is just the beginning of the road. There is much more work to be done. But it's important to know that being infected with this virus does appear to increase lung cancer risk."

As for the role of measles, the second study's lead author, Dr. Samuel Ariad, from the department of oncology at Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva, Israel, said that infection -- perhaps even asymptomatic infection -- seems to be associated with half of the lung cancer cases he tracked.
So,... can we mandate HPV vaccinations for all, now?

(Yes, I admit it would be good to see more studies done on this, in larger numbers, and with smokers as well as ill non-smokers. But I watched someone die from non-small cell lung cancer last year, and it's not something I'd wish on anyone - if we can stop even a small handful of those cases, along with all the other types of cancer HPV has been indicated in causing, isn't it worth the unlikely chance that the vaccine itself would encourage promiscuity?)
-Kelly Hills

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