Gardasil protects against cervical cancer, but the vaccine’s risks are a concern

The Washington Post

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Should you expose your young daughter to potential risks from a vaccine that protects against cervical cancer, a disease that she may get 20 to 40 years from now?

That’s a question millions of parents face as television ads push for girls to receive Gardasil, a vaccine that prevents infection from four types of human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. Those four types cause most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Gardasil in 2006 for girls and young women to prevent cervical cancer and genital warts caused by some types of HPV. But complaints have emerged about the marketing and cost of Gardasil, and some parents have raised concerns about its safety. A new report (at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaccines/hpv/gardasil.html) by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that serious complications had occurred, although the rate and severity of most side effects appear to be consistent with those of other vaccines.

To help you weigh the risks and benefits of Gardasil, Consumer Reports reviewed the evidence.

How effective is Gardasil?

Studies involving about 21,000 girls and women found that for those who were not infected with HPV at the time of vaccination, Gardasil was highly effective in preventing precancerous cell changes that often develop into cancer of the cervix, vagina and vulva, and in preventing genital warts.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.