The battle for, or against a vaccine for the Human Papilloma Virus has begun. It is getting so intense, that it made it to the front page of the New York Times, Saturday, February 17th, 2007. Those who advocate for it focus on the suffering of 9,710 women getting cervical cancer, and 3,700 dying from it in the USA, and 233,000 worldwide. Their argument for a vaccine is very compelling, as it is for every other disease that has, or will soon have a vaccine for it. My opinion against this vaccine acknowledges these points, but, highlights some points that I have not seen in the debate, so far.
Some oppose vaccinations on the grounds of not liking vaccinations in general. This is not why I oppose the HPV vaccine, although, I agree with the basic philosophy behind this stance: they may have side effects that we are not dealing with. Merck has been so aggressive about this vaccine, that some claim not enough time has transpired to see if it indeed will be safe, and productive.
Some oppose the HPV vaccine because it is too expensive ($400 for 3 separate inoculations), and because it seems to have been pushed too hard, and too fast by Merck.
Analysts have calculated that Merck may make about $5 billion/year with this vaccine.
Some fee the “HPV” stands for “Helping Pay for Vioxx,” since Merck lost mucho dinero with that drug. Merck has acknowledged a sense of urgency in the production and marketing of the HPV vaccine, but they are silent about how much money, and how many palms they have been greasing.
The Governor in Texas is in hot water for pushing the vaccine through, once it was discovered that his former chief of staff is now a lobbyst for Merck. Even though the Medical Association in Texas, and the American Academy of Pediatricians are opposed to the vaccine, 31 states are now considering funding it.
Some oppose it because it may encourage sexual activity in girls too young, as if there isn’t enough encouragement for them, now.
These are all great points. Still, my opposition to the vaccine goes back to Pasteur himself, who came up with the whole vaccination concept. It is not generally known that Pasteur had a slight change of heart shortly before his death. “Ce n’est pas le germ, c’est le terrain” (it is not the germ, it is the terrain).
There is no question that HPV is associated with cervical cancer, and that H. Pilory is associated with ulcers. But, the problem is not as clear as that. Let’s start with a book, well received by the Journal of the American Medical Association 2006;295:2891, The War on Cancer: An Anatomy of Failure, a Blueprint for the Future. Here are the main points in the book:
- The top 5 cancers (prostate, breast, lung, colon, and pancreas) have changed little since 1995. Mortality has improved only 1% for 10/28 most common cancers, mostly due to food refrigeration, better diet and hygiene, better supportive care, and early detection.
- 19th century bacteriology influenced cancer theory. The misunderstandings perpetuated by this science have had lingering consequences: “generation of scientists and scholars, misguided by flawed hypothesis, often commit their talents and energy as well as human and financial resources, in an unproductive pursuit of a false lead.”
- “More pervasive and counterproductive [idea] developed… that cancer cells, like bacteria, are foreign invaders that must be eradicated at any cost. The result has been more aggressive cytotoxic chemotherapy with few cures and an inefficient trial-and-error drug development strategy that continues today.”
- In other words, the main two ideas of modern oncology are to exploit differences between normal and cancer cells, and drugs must be cytotoxic to be successful.
- “Drug development… remains mostly anchored to this century-old, conceptually antiquated, technically inefficient, labor intensive, costly, and low yield ‘hit-and-miss’ (mostly miss) screening approach engineered and sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.”
- “The cell-killing paradigm has failed to achieve its objective… how does this system persist? … the increasing prominent role of the pharmaceutical industry in drug development… career advancement, relationship between productivity and job security, salary sources, and growing dependence on pharmaceutical companies for funding.”
- “The information pipeline, generated by clinical researchers and supported by their sponsors and publishers, fosters standards of care that are reinforced by financial incentives and the extraordinary capacity of physicians for self-delusion, and by unrealistic expectations of consumers nurtured by the media.”
A better approach would be prevention, targeting underlying molecular genetic defects, and focusing on patient-outcome, not tumor measurements.
Granted, the book does not get into vaccines for cancer, but it does address the flawed approach of blaming the bug, instead of the patients’ terrain that allows the bug to take up a stronghold.
In my opinion, political and economic factors are often ignored in the etiology of cancer. Consider that affluent men, who are able to afford better food, education and better environments, had less cancer than less fortunate men from 1950 to 1998 (J. Nat’l Cancer Institute 2002;94:904). “We really need to work at linking the environment to behavior, behavior to physiology and physiology to carcinogenesis. [We need] better efforts to integrate work across these domains” (JAMA 2003;290:2790).
The vaccine approach for HPV, which was prophetically panned at its inception (NEJM 2002;347:1645), is not without its merits. But, it does not consider these basic issues. It is really simple: think of a skin infection. Does it mean that all of a sudden some bug got in there, and gave you an infection? No, it turns out that your skin is teeming with bugs, but they don’t get to you, unless you get a cut, particularly if your immune system, which is mostly in the tissues (“The danger model: a renewed sense of self,” J. Science 2002;296:301).
So, if the tissues that compose your skin, or any other tissue, like the cells of the cervix, are T.O.I.L.ing, the bug will get in there, and start colonizing to the point of overwhelming your local, and systemic defenses. T, toxic, O, oxidized, I, inflamed, L, lacking in energy (JAMA 2004;291:358). These are the general mechanisms of all diseases. Why should it be different for cervical cancer, and HPV?
In other words, HPV finds the cells of the cervix already “toiling.” This is why Indole-3-Carbinol, I3C, the chemical in cruciferous vegetables can help the immune system get rid of this virus (J. Cancer Research 1994;54:1446, J. Gyn Oncol 2000;78:123), mostly by stimulating the 2OH detoxification pathway in the Liver, since xenoestrogens, or toxins that mimic estrogen in the environment contribute to the toxicity of sexual tissues (J. Biology Chemistry 1998;273:3838). I3C, then relieves the stress on the cervical tissues’ dependance on the 16 OH pathway of Estrogen detoxification (British J. Cancer 1996;74:488).
Women with cervical lesions have lower 2OH/16OH hydroxyestorne ratios, which shows their Liver’s don’t get rid of xenoestrogens that irritate the cervix. This is why Indole-3-Carbinol is beneficial to heal these lesions, since it promotes 2OH hydroxylation to detoxify Endocrine disruptors (J. Gyn Oncol 2000;78:123).
When the liver detoxifies Estrogen and chemicals, such as endocrine disruptors, then the immune system is less burdened, and more likely to rid itself of the HPV. Not surprisingly, anything that helps the Liver work better, like I3C, will help abnormal paps revert to normal. This is what happens on diet high in vegetables and fruits (J. American Dietetic Assoc 2001;101:1167). By the way, how many of these young women getting cervical cancer are eating broccolis, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, etc.?
Human Papilloma Virus resolves on its own in 1-2 years, but it becomes a problem (warts, cancer) in 28% of women (J. Nat’l Cancer Instit 1993;85:934) when the infected tissues are lacking antioxidants and inflammation (J. Nat’l Cancer Institute 2003;31:29 and J. Alternative Medicine Review 2003;8:157). Vitamin A is 4.5 times lower in women with CIN lesions in the cervix (J. Cancer Investigation 1999;17:253,) which is why topical applications of Vitamin A enhances regression of CIN II lesions (J. Nat’l Cancer Institute 1994;86:539).
Lack of folic acid, a B vitamin, also predisposes to cervical injury, so its replacement enhances healing (JAMA 1992;267:528). It turns out that our atrocious diets are lacking in B complex vitamins. A lack of antioxidants do the same thing, so, replacing them has been shown to decrease the chances of cervical cancer. This why Alpha Lipoic Acid, COQ10 and Glutathione help. They are antioxidants that help our cells have more energy to do their jobs (J. Alt Med Rev 2003;8:163).
Escharotic treatments, or topical applications of ZnCL2 Sanguinaria mixture with Calendula twice a week until pap is clear of lesions is a good alternative for those women not wishing to undergo surgery or Cryotherapy. It usually takes 5 weeks and it includes topical Vitamin A and oral treatment with Vitamin C 6-10 grams a day, beta carotene 150,000 IU a day and Selenium 400 mcg a day and a vegan diet (J. Arch Surg 1941;42:279).
It is not that I recommend all that, since cryosurgery is so easy, but, I mention all that to prove the point: “ce n’est pas le germ, c’est le terrain.”