Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » UNBALANCED, THANKFULLY

    Filed at 4:47 pm under by dcobranchi

    My local paper has a pretty good piece up on the HPV vaccine. (The headline writer, though, should be fired.)

    4 Responses to “UNBALANCED, THANKFULLY”

    Comment by
    March 13th, 2007
    at 6:26 pm

    Maybe you can help me here. Something I have not see addressed at all in the media or in any Merck or government press releases (which may just mean I missed it) is why the hell aren’t boys being targeted for this vaccine right along with the girls?

    Isn’t that who the girl would most likely be contracting it FROM?

    Not only do boys spread HPV to girls, they can spread it to other boys, as well. From what I have been able to find, the same strains (or anyway it was at least one of them; I’m not sure all four have been researched in that particular context) have been implicated in anorectal cancer.

    It seems to me that targeting both sexes would cut the rate of these strains a heck of a lot faster than just targeting the girls, which would help cut HPV rates (of the four strains) in girls who don’t or can’t get the vaccine themselves. Right?

    I suppose the answer to why the boys aren’t targeted is, “Because they haven’t tested it on boys yet.” If not, then why not? And is there any reason to think the results would be much different for boys than for girls?

    Or am I missing something about how this vaccine works? Does it prevent infection with those strains, or does act to somehow prevent the changes that lead to cervical cancer, without actually preventing infection (or transmission)?

    But if that were the case, it’d likely be true for HPV-related anorectal cancer in men, as well.

    I will admit that it’s been months since I did my big flurry of research, and maybe the answers to my questions are out there, but I’d be interested to hear your take on it.

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    March 13th, 2007
    at 7:40 pm

    Really good guesses.

    It was initially tested on females (as they are susceptible to cervical cancer). So far the FDA has only approved it for females. Merck has tested it on males but that testing was years behind. I’m sure it will eventually be approved for males, too.

    I hadn’t heard anything about HPV-induced cancer among males. Doesn’t mean it’s not true, though.

    Comment by
    March 14th, 2007
    at 10:00 am

    Well, it’s probably an obvious guess, too. I suppose what I was really wondering was why there wasn’t an equal and simultaneous effort from the get-go to study the vaccine in males.

    My guess on that one is $. Since it would have to be a separate study anyway, I don’t imagine there’s any point in sinking too many bucks into it until the other study begins to show enough potential efficacy to make it worth pursuing.

    NB – The following citations on the relationship of HPV to anorectal (and other mucosal cell) cancers are not, by any means, exhaustive, and they do not necessarily represent the best overview of the subject.



    Couple of studies mentioned here:



    Didn’t mean to imply that HPV-related anorectal cancer is only a male problem, by the way:


    Many of the studies are in the context of HIV, but HIV is not necessarily causative (although it certainly is contributory, as would be expected of anything that compromises the immune system) so much as well-studied, and of course there is overlap on risk factors for HPV and HIV.

    HPV also appears to be a factor in tonsillar cancer and other head and neck cancers (as well as cancer of the urogenital tract).


    Lots of related studies here (page 1 of 6):


    Comment by
    Nance Confer
    March 14th, 2007
    at 12:14 pm

    Why were heart disease studies done in men and not women for so long?

    Lots of room to speculate on why anything related to sex and/or birth control is “women’s work.”