Vaccine prevents cancer

It’s true. There is a vaccine for cancer. At least for a certain type of cancer, human papilloma virus (HPV) associated cancer. HPV causes genital warts (a truly unpleasant subject, I know, but also the most common STD in America) which may resolve spontaneously, but the virus remains. Its presence is associated not only with genital and anal cancers in both men and women, but also with cancers of the mouth and throat.

Cervical cancer most often affects women in mid-life, but HPV is contracted much earlier. So the vaccine, called Gardasil, is recommended for women and men from ages 9 to 26.

There has been a lot of publicity about Gardasil, primarily because mainstream America doesn’t want to admit that young people have sex. The information about it has been politicized and the Internet is full of misinformation. This is what is true: Gardasil doesn’t give 100 percent protection against HPV, but it significantly reduces the chances of infection.

A study released this week shows that states with the lowest rates for teen vaccinations against HPV are also the states where cervical cancer rates are the highest. These findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, held Nov. 9-12 in San Antonio.

There is a vaccine against a particularly nasty type of cancer, typically acquired very early in sexual life. College students are already at risk, but the vaccine can be given up to age 26, so there is still time to protect yourself.

Think seriously about this vaccine. You can reduce your risk of getting cancer. Who doesn’t want to do that?

UMKC Student Health and Wellness offers Gardasil for female and male students and Cervarix for female students only. If you are unable to pay for the vaccine, both manufacturers offer a patient assistance program.

For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/whatishpv.html

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