Oral Cancer News

HPV vaccine IS safe and effective, confirms longest-ever study into the shot which prevents cancer of the cervix, head, neck throat and penis

Source: www.dailymail.co.uk
Author: Mia De Graaf, Health Editor

The HPV vaccine is safe and effective at preventing human papilloma virus, according to the longest investigation ever conducted on the relatively new shot. While the vaccine has been a success in every study since it came out in the US and the UK in 2006, the medical community has been keenly waiting for some long-term data to show its lingering benefits.

Today, Augusta University’s 10-year study was published in the journal Pediatrics, appearing to confirm the findings in every other short-term report. The data also supported the view that the vaccine should be administered to both boys and girls from the age of nine years old, despite previously only being offered to girls.

Experts say they hope the findings will help drive up rates of children getting the vaccine, which protects against HPV and therefore HPV-linked cancers such as throat, head, neck, penis, and cervical cancer.

‘The vaccine was virtually 100 percent effective in preventing disease in these young individuals,’ says Dr Daron G. Ferris, professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical College of Georgia and at the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US and the UK with an estimated 14 million Americans infected every year, and a third of British adults. While about two-thirds of infected individuals can eventually clear the virus, it persists and can cause a wide range of health problems in the remainder, including a whole host of cancers.

The researchers tracked 1,661 people in 34 sites across nine countries, assessing the effectiveness of the three-shot vaccine – which is the format offered in the US, while UK citizens get a two-shot vaccine.

At first, a third of the participants received a placebo. But within 30 months, they also received the vaccine. They started assessing the patients for signs of HPV – genital warts, precancerous or cancerous growths and other infections – from three-and-a-half years into the study.

Those assessments were carried out twice a year for the next seven years. But by the end of the study, all participants were still disease-free. Notably, those who received the vaccine earlier had a more robust resilience to the virus, judging by the amount of infection-fighter cells in their blood.

‘Now we need to push for more young people to get vaccinated,’ he says. ‘We are doing miserably in the United States.’

The virus is typically spread through vaginal and anal sex and can develop into cancers in the vagina, penis, throat and anus. Nearly all men and women will be contracted with one form of HPV, there are an estimated 150 types, in their lifetime, according to the CDC.

Annually an average of 38,000 cases of HPV-related cancers are diagnosed in the US. Of those cases, 59 percent are women and 41 percent are men. But men are more likely to develop a type of head or neck cancer, known as oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma, than women.

The CDC recommends for all children in the US to receive the vaccine between the ages of nine and 12. Forty percent of girls and 22 percent of boys aged 13 to 17 years old had completed the three-vaccine series by 2014, the organization found.

In contrast, the National Health Service in the UK recommends for only females to receive the vaccination between the ages of 12 and 13. There are no plans to extend the vaccine to males at this time because it is ‘unlikely to be cost-effective’, according to the The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization.

The vaccination was first introduced for females in a three-part series to help prevent against cervical cancer that forms in the cervix. Cervical cancer occurs from genital HPV, which is skin-to-skin contact during sex.

US men are now encouraged to receive the jab after data revealed they too were at risk from developing HPV and cancers associated with the virus.

Research has also shown that men who give or receive anal sex increase their risk of developing HPV.
Condoms are a protective barrier that health experts recommend for men use in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

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December, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Young men should be required to get the HPV vaccine. It would have saved me from cancer.

Source: www.thedailybeast.com
Author: Michael Becker

In December 2015, at the age of 47, I was diagnosed with Stage IV oral squamous cell carcinoma.

More simply, I have advanced cancer of the head and neck. While initial treatment with grueling chemo-radiation appeared successful, the cancer returned one year later in both of my lungs. My prognosis shifted from potentially curable to terminal disease. The news was shocking and devastating—not just for me, but for my wife, two teenage daughters, and the rest of our family and friends.

Suddenly, my life revolved around regular appointments for chemotherapy, radiation therapy, imaging procedures, and frequent checkups. I made seemingly endless, unscheduled hospital emergency room visits—including one trip to the intensive care unit—to address some of the more severe toxicities from treatment.

All told, I suffered from more than a dozen side effects related to treatment and/or cancer progression. Some are temporary; others permanent. These include anxiety, depression, distorted sense of taste, clots forming in my blood vessels, dry mouth, weight loss, and many more.

My cancer started with a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, a virus that is preventable with vaccines available for adolescent girls since 2006 and boys starting in 2011. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three vaccines to prevent HPV infection: Gardasil®, Gardasil® 9, and Cervarix®. These vaccines provide strong protection against new HPV infections for young women through age 26, and young men through age 21, but they are not effective at treating established HPV infections. It was too late for me in 2011 when the HPV vaccine was made available to young men, and I was 43 years old.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30,000 new cancers attributable to HPV are diagnosed each year. Unlike human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which is spread by blood and semen, HPV is spread in the fluids of the mucosal membranes that line the mouth, throat, and genital tracts, and can be passed from one person to another simply via skin-to-skin contact.

While most HPV cases clear up on their own, infection with certain high-risk strains of HPV can cause changes in the body that lead to six different types of cancer, including cancers of the penis, cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, and head and neck (the last of which is what I have). Two of these, HPV strains 16 and 18, are responsible for most HPV-caused cancers.

Researchers believe that it can take between 10 and 30 years from the time of an initial HPV infection until a tumor forms. That’s why preventing HPV in the first place is so important and the HPV vaccine is so essential.

However, only 49.5 percent of girls and 37.5 percent of boys in the United States were up to date with this potentially lifesaving vaccination series, according to a 2017 CDC report. In sharp contrast, around 80 percent of adolescents receive two other recommended vaccines—a vaccine to prevent meningococcus (PDF), which causes bloodstream infections and meningitis, and the Tdap vaccine to prevent tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.

Even if you don’t think your child is at risk for HPV now, they almost certainly will be. HPV is extremely common. Nearly everyone gets it at some point; in fact, the CDC estimates that more than 90 percent and 80 percent of sexually active men and women, respectively, will be infected with at least one strain of HPV at some point in their lives. Around one-half of these infections are with a high-risk HPV strain.

As a cancer patient with a terminal prognosis, I find it infuriating that the HPV vaccine is tragically underutilized more than a decade since its introduction. Two simple shots administered in early adolescence can reduce a child’s risk of receiving a cancer diagnosis much later in life.

Parents who oppose the use of vaccines cite popular misconceptions that they are unsafe, ineffective, and that immunity is short-lived. Others argue that receiving the HPV vaccine may increase sexual promiscuity. Films like Vaxxed based on research that has been discredited, and directed by a researcher who fled the United Kingdom due to the misleading uproar he created, are still quoted as science.

Regardless, the fact remains that millions of adolescents aren’t getting a vaccine to prevent a virus known to cause cancer. We must counter untrue, exposed, and discredited research that keeps some parents from having their children vaccinated and put an end to the campaign of misinformation.

Viruses that are preventable, such as HPV, should be eradicated just like previous success with polio and smallpox. Cancers that are preventable through HPV vaccination should be prevented. The safety and efficacy of these vaccines are no longer subject to serious debate (PDF). Research has shown that vaccinations work; they keep children healthy, save lives, and protect future generations of Americans—but only when they are utilized.

The lesson: Don’t wait. Talk to your pediatrician about vaccinating your 11-year-old boys and girls against HPV today to eradicate this cancer-causing virus.

I only wish my parents had that opportunity when I was young, as it could have prevented the cancer that’s killing me.

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December, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

HPV vaccine is safe, effective after 10 years: study

Author: AFP/RelaxNews
Date: November 30, 2017
Source: Globalnews.ca

New research looking into the long-term effects of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has found it to be both safe and effective in protecting against the most virulent strains of the virus.

Led by Dr. Daron G. Ferris, professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical College of Georgia and at the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University, the study is the longest followup to date on the vaccine, looking at data from 1,661 male and female participants who were followed for just under 10 years.

Of these participants, around two-thirds received a three-dose regimen of the vaccine when they were ages nine to 15 and sexually inactive.

Initially about one-third received a placebo — not a vaccine — however, the placebo group also received the vaccine 30 months into the study, meaning that these individuals were followed a shorter period of time.

Ferris found that the vaccine was virtually 100 per cent effective in preventing the disease, although vaccinating earlier produced the most robust initial and long-term antibody response, the proteins found in the blood which help fight infection.

“We needed to answer questions like if we vaccinate earlier in life, will it last,” explained Ferris, “The answer is yes, this cancer prevention vaccine is working incredibly well 10 years later. A booster vaccine likely will not be needed by these young people. I think now we have come full circle.”

The new finding also supports previous research which suggests that a more widespread and earlier administration of the HPV vaccine, before teens and preteens are exposed to the infection, is the preferred option.

Although the disease can be cleared in around two-thirds of infected individuals, the virus can persist in the remaining one-third, potentially causing a wide range of further health problems.

The quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18, is designed to better arm the immune system to eliminate the virus.

According to the National Cancer Institute, HPV types 16 and 18 account for essentially all cervical cancer and for most other HPV-related cancers such as penile and anal cancers. Types 6 and 11 account for about 90 per cent of genital warts as well as non-cancerous tumour growths in the respiratory tract.

 

HPV is the most sexually transmitted infection in the U.S.A. Around 79 million Americans, most in their late teens and early 20s, are infected according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). HPV is also the most common cause of cervical cancer.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first quadrivalent vaccine, Gardasil, in June 2006, with the vaccine currently approved for patients ages nine to 26.

 

Although the CDC reports that around 43 per cent of U.S. teens are up to date on recommended doses of the HPV vaccine, Ferris added that, “Now we need to push for more young people to get vaccinated. We are doing miserably in the United States.”

The HPV researchers added that the vaccine can be given along with the meningococcal and tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccines, to 11- and 12-year-olds.

The results can be found published online in the journal Pediatrics.

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

10 Facts Everyone Should Know About HPV

Author: Lindsay Holmes
Date: November 27, 2017
Source: Huffingtonpost.com

First thing: Don’t stress.

An HPV diagnosis from your doctor doesn’t have to be scary.

In the first season of HBO’s “Girls,” Lena Dunham’s character, Hannah, gets a startling wake-up call when she tests positive for the human papillomavirus. She gets upset and confronts her ex-boyfriend about it. Her best friend tells her “all adventurous women” have HPV, but she generally buys into the overblown idea that her life is over.
Diagnoses like HPV can be complicated, and also unfairly laden with stigma. Research shows that shame and fear surrounding sexual health issues can be a barrier to testing and management.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Experts say that educating yourself can help take the scariness out of an HPV diagnosis and help you manage your health.

Below is a breakdown of the facts everyone ― yes, including men! ― should know about HPV:

  1. HPV IS INCREDIBLY COMMON.

Approximately 79 million Americans have HPV, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of those infected are in their 20s.
“HPV is very common, and most people will be exposed to HPV at some time in their lives,” Dr. Grace Lau, an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Health, told HuffPost.

  1. HPV IS CONSIDERED A SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTION.

It’s the most common one, according to the CDC. It’s typically spread through vaginal or anal sex, and it can be passed on even if your partner isn’t showing any symptoms.

“It requires intimate skin to skin contact for transmission,” Lau said. “Condom usage decreases the risk of transmission, but doesn’t completely take away that risk.”

  1. MANY DOCTORS MAY NOT EVEN TEST FOR IT.

Physicians may not screen for HPV during routine Pap smears or other health testing because of how common it is, according to the American Cancer Society. They may wait until you show signs of an infection (like genital warts), or they may test for it if you’re a woman whose Pap smear comes back abnormal.

  1. MEN CAN GET HPV AND PASS IT TO THEIR PARTNERS.

If you think the virus is a women’s health issue, think again: Research published in 2014 found that 69 percent of men studied had HPV.

  1. BUT THERE ISN’T A REAL WAY TO TEST MEN.

Currently, there’s no real recommended HPV test for men, according to the CDC. Most tests are done on women through routine screenings for cervical cancer.

“Women should have regular visits with their gynecologist and get regularly screened with pap smears,” Lau said.

  1. IT MIGHT INCREASE YOUR RISK FOR CANCER OR OTHER HEALTH ISSUES.

HPV is most commonly associated with a risk for certain cancers, including cervical cancer or oral cancers. Some forms of the virus can also cause genital warts. However, as the CDC points out, there’s no need to panic, either:
Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV. The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types of HPV that can cause cancers.
Regular check-ins with your doctor can help monitor your health so you stay on top of any potential issues, Lau said.

  1. HPV DOESN’T NECESSARILY STAY WITH YOU FOREVER.

“Patients commonly assume that HPV is a lifelong infection that will stay with them always,” Lau said. “But most HPV infections in most people can be cleared by the immune system within one to two years.”

That doesn’t necessarily give you a free pass to ignore it, though. Lau stresses that it’s important to monitor your heath with your physician.

“If you have been diagnosed, it’s important to follow up with your doctor to make sure it clears,” she said.

  1. THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF STRAINS OF THE VIRUS.

There are high-risk strains and low-risk strains of HPV. Two high-risk types, HPV 16 and 18, are most commonly associated with precancerous or cancerous cell growth.

“HPV is not just one virus, but a group of over 200 related viruses. Each virus is labeled with a number to distinguish it from the others, and different viruses can target different areas of the body and can cause different possible diseases in humans,” Lau said. “Some cause skin problems like warts and others can lead to cancers.”

The HPV vaccine targets those high-risk strains, along with the strains that cause 90 percent of genital warts.

  1. THE VACCINE CAN PROTECT YOU.

Lau says everyone who plans on being sexually active should be vaccinated. Doctors typically instruct preteens get the vaccine, but if that doesn’t happen, it’s OK: Lau says the vaccine can be recommended for women up through age 26 and men up through age 21.

“The HPV vaccine is indicated for people who haven’t had sex yet, because it protects them against the viruses they haven’t been exposed to yet. However, the vaccine may still be helpful in people who have been sexually active,” she added.

  1. IT’S NOTHING TO FEEL ASHAMED ABOUT.

Bottom line: There’s no reason to buy into any stigma surrounding HPV ― or any sexual health issue, for that matter. The best thing you can do is stay proactive and smart about your well-being.

“HPV is something to be aware of and to be informed about,” Lau said. That’s it.

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Smokeless tobacco, snuff, chew not safe substitutes for cigarettes

Source: www.bnd.com
Author: staff

As many people are aware, the use of any type of tobacco can lead to major health risks. Many individuals think using smokeless tobacco or chew can be a safe substitute for cigarettes.

A mock model of how dangerous and destructive tobacco products, specifically smokeless tobacco, can be to someone’s health and well-being. Navy photo by Douglas H. Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs

Tobacco companies often lead people to believe this; however, this is not true. There is no proof that any smokeless tobacco products help smokers quit smoking.

Smokeless tobacco has four times the amount of nicotine than a cigarette and also contains 30 chemicals known to cause cancers.

A few of these cancers include mouth, tongue, cheek, and gum cancer. Additionally, cancer can be found in the esophagus and pancreas. Along with these health risks there are other problems, including mouth and teeth problems and tooth loss.

Many studies have shown that high rates of leukoplakia in the mouth were found where individuals hold the chew.

Leukoplakia is a white patch in the mouth that could potentially turn into cancer. The white patches, sometimes called sores, within the mouth cannot be scraped off but usually do not cause pain. The longer the use of oral tobacco, the more prone an individual is to develop leukoplakia.

Stopping tobacco use usually allows leukoplakia to heal, however, treatment may be needed if there are signs of early cancer. Along with these issues, there are many others such as bad breath, teeth stains, receding gums, gum disease, cavities and tooth decay.

As well as the health risks one is providing for themselves, children, pets and animals can also suffer health risks from tobacco substances. Children, pets and animals often mistake these substances for candy, gum or something they should put in their mouth.

Ingesting smokeless tobacco can lead to nicotine poisoning and even death. Most children affected by this are under the age of 6 and more than 70 percent are under 1 year of age according to a study in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Smokeless tobacco affects everyone.

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Superseed? Apricot kernels, touted as cancer cure, linked to cyanide poisoning

Author: Catherine Solyom
Date: November 22, 2017
Source: flipboard.com

Brendan Brogan had just returned from a shopping trip on the Plateau laden with exotic snacks.

On a visit to Montreal from California, he stood in the doorway of his buddy Mike Guetta’s room, munching away on something as they discussed the absurdities of the day.

Then Guetta looked up.

“Those better not be almonds,” he said. “You know I’m allergic to those.”

“No, no,” Brogan replied, “I would never do that. These are apricot pits.”

“What?!? Don’t eat those! They’re poisonous!”

Brogan pooh-poohed the warning, arguing the kernels were organic and he’d bought them at the health food store.

“Look! It’s the superseed of the Hunza people, with Vitamin B17!”

Then he turned the bag over and read the fine print. His face went grey: “Caution: Do not consume more than 2-3 kernels per day. Keep out of the reach of children. Pregnant and nursing women should not consume apricot kernels. Health Canada warns that eating too many apricot kernels can lead to acute cyanide poisoning.”

After a quick call to poison control, Brogan rushed to the nearest emergency room. He had eaten a third of the bag.

Apricot kernels, like cherry pits and apple seeds, contain a product called amygdalin, also known as laetrile and marketed as Vitamin B17.

Bitter apricot kernels — the pits of the pits — are widely available in Montreal health food stores, including at Rachelle-Béry branches across the city, where Brogan bought some. They are gluten-free, pesticide-free, vegan and organic.

They are also potentially lethal, as Brogan found out.

The kernels, like cherry pits and apple seeds, contain a product called amygdalin, also known as laetrile and marketed as Vitamin B17, though it’s more like an anti-vitamin.

When the seeds are chewed and digested, the amygdalin is converted to cyanide in the stomach. Eat too much of them — more than three apricot kernels for an adult and just one kernel for a toddler — and cyanide poisoning can occur.

Cyanide cuts off oxygen supply. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, mental confusion, weakness, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, seizures, coma and, eventually, death.

That’s why Australia, for one, has banned the sale of apricot kernels. But that didn’t stop a Melbourne man from slowly poisoning himself by ingesting 17 mg of homemade apricot kernel extract per day, in the mistaken belief that it would cure his prostate cancer. When doctors performed routine surgery on him in September, they found cyanide levels in his blood that were 25 times the accepted level.

Germany and the United Kingdom have also restricted the sale of apricot kernels, after a number of cases of children hospitalized for cyanide poisoning. In 2011, for example, a 28-month old girl was rushed unconscious to hospital in Turkey. She died in hospital of acute cyanide poisoning 22 days later. She had eaten 10 kernels.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has prohibited the sale of apricot kernels if  “intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, for its part, issued a recall and health hazard alert for Our Father’s Farm brand of apricot kernels in 2009, after a reported case of cyanide poisoning.

Since then the agency has received two more complaints of illness.

Packaging must now carry Health Canada’s warning label. But other brands have filled the void left by Our Father’s Farm.

 

Brogan bought the Organic Traditions brand of the kernel. Manually harvested and imported from Uzbekistan, the kernels are perhaps the “prized superseed” of the Hunza people. It says so right there on the packaging, along with the following claims: “contains vitamin B17” and “used in Ancient Asian medicine for centuries.”

In texts dating back to the 1930s that are rehashed by consumer direct and alternative health websites, the Hunza or Burusho people of the Himalayan region of northern Pakistan are said to live to be 140 and never get sick.

It must be because of the kernels, the story goes.

For example, a Facebook site liked by  997,744 people — titled “The truth about cancer” — says the Hunzas enjoyed near-perfect health.

“Some lived to be over 135 years old and no one in their clan had any of the conditions so common in the modern world, such as diabetes, obesity, heart attack, and cancer.” The website continues in bold lettering, noting that “they ate massive quantities of apricot seed kernels.”

Numerous other websites also claim that apricot kernels can prevent or cure cancer. The kernels are said to treat arthritis, boost your immune system and even serve as an aphrodisiac.

The truth about apricot seeds — and the Hunza people — is less rosy, however. A New York Times reporter who travelled to this Shangri-La in 1996 discovered a beautiful place indeed. But the elderly men who looked to be 140 were probably more like 70.

“The great Hunza secret to old age turned out to be its absence of birth records,” John Tierney wrote.

By  modern accounts, Hunza life expectancy is similar to other people in remote mountain regions who go through cycles of food scarcity — 50 to 60 years old.

On the seeds themselves, the science has been conclusive. Numerous studies show that amygdalin does kill cancer cells — and all other cells too.

Joe Schwarcz, the director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society, said the initial idea — generating small amounts of cyanide to kill fast-multiplying cancer cells — was not a bad one. But it just doesn’t work, he said.

The sale of apricot seeds “clearly should not be allowed,” he said, surprised at how readily they are found on store shelves in Montreal.

Schwarcz says Health Canada is overwhelmed and useless at stopping the sale of bogus health remedies.

“With dietary supplements, they tend to say well, it’s not really dangerous, and let them be,” Schwarcz said, vowing to confront Health Canada about the sale of the seeds as a vitamin. “But this one is not in that category. You don’t need a lot of these kernels to do a lot of harm.”

A spokesperson for Health Canada said it is powerless to stop the sale of a product if its distributor does not claim any health benefits. It referred the Montreal Gazette to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The CFIA said it merely enforces Health Canada directives.

Neither agency would comment on why apricot seeds are sold in Canada at all — as vitamins or snacks — given their known toxicity.

 

Upon arrival at Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, Brogan was given a tall Styrofoam cup of charcoal then placed on a gurney in the hallway to monitor his condition.

No one, from the person who answered the phone at poison control to the triage nurse to the doctor on duty, could believe that apricot seeds were being sold in Montreal.

Eight hours later, Brogan was released from hospital with a $1,125 bill. He had no health insurance, he explained.

“Those seeds were the most expensive snack I’ve ever eaten.”

Guetta went back to Rachelle-Béry to alert them of the danger. The store manager seemed alarmed and immediately took all the remaining packages off the shelves.

But when Guetta returned a few weeks later, there they were again. The superseed of the Hunza people.

 

 

 

 

 

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Top cancer doctors have some advice about alcohol

Source: www.newser.com
Author: staff

Name things that increase your risk of cancer. Cigarettes and tanning beds might quickly come to mind. But how about alcohol? A recent survey of 4,016 adults by the American Society of Clinical Oncology found that only 30% knew alcohol is a risk factor for cancer, reports the New York Times. ASCO, which includes many leading cancer doctors, had yet to voice its own thoughts on the topic. That changed this month, with the Nov. 7 publication of a statement in the Journal of Clinical Oncology that begins by calling the link between the two “often underappreciated” and noting that “addressing high-risk alcohol use is one strategy to reduce the burden of cancer.”

“Despite the evidence of a strong link between alcohol drinking and certain cancers, ASCO has not previously addressed the topic of alcohol and cancer.”

In the statement they cite outside research they’ve found to be sound, like an estimate that 5.8% of global cancer deaths in 2012 were attributable to alcohol, and evidence that drinking can increase the risk of mouth, throat, voice box, liver, breast, esophageal, and colorectal cancers. So what’s the upshot? It’s not “Don’t drink,” lead statement author Dr. Noelle LoConte tells the Times. “It’s different than tobacco where we say, ‘Never smoke. Don’t start.’ This is a little more subtle”—drink less, essentially. (Though the statement does contain the line, “People who do not currently drink alcohol should not start for any reason.”) So what’s Wine Spectator’s response? It tries to poke a hole or two, noting “the statement … dismisses possible health benefits of alcohol, including lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.”

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Immokalee health clinic earns national award for vaccination rate

Source: www.naplesnews.com
Author: Liz Freeman

The public health department in Immokalee set a goal for getting children vaccinated against cancer and brought home a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention award for its high success rate.

The Florida Department of Health in Collier County, specifically the Immokalee location, was named the regional winner of the 2017 HPV Vaccine Award because of its 76.2 percent vaccine series completion rate among 13 to 15 year olds.

A point-in-time survey in August found 560 children aged 13 to 15 in Immokalee had been vaccinated against HPV, according to a health department spokeswoman.

In the last four years, the Immokalee clinic took on an ambitious campaign in the farmworker community to boost HPV vaccination rates, starting with ensuring that all staff members who have contact with clients are knowledgeable about the virus and the vaccine. The virus is common and can cause certain cancer of the genitals, head and neck. There are about 31,000 new cases of cancer a year caused by the virus, according to the CDC.

Controversy is attached to the HPV vaccine by some groups who argue that getting kids vaccinated may promote early sexual interaction with others. State governments that have authority over school vaccination requirements have faced debate over requiring it and over the cost

State Surgeon General and DOH Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip said she was proud of the Immokalee clinic and its success rate for the vaccinating young people against the virus.

“Their commitment to preventing cancers caused by HPV infection and ensuring that every child and parent that visits the clinic are educated about the benefits of the HPV vaccine has a positive impact on the health of their county and our state,” she said in a news release.

The CDC award criteria stipulates that candidates must achieve a vaccination series rate of at least 70 percent of the patient population aged 13 to 15, both girls and boys, seen in the last two years.

Stephanie Vick, administrator of the Collier health department, said the Immokalee team identified a public health challenge and set out to achieve results.

“Their efforts reflect their professionalism and dedication to tackling what for some groups can be a taboo subject and placed the focus upon a universally accepted prevention subject,” Vick said.

People get HPV from another person during sexual contact, and both men and women can get it. A person can get it even if the partner has no sign or symptoms. About 79 million Americans are infected with some type of HPV, and 14 million people become newly infected each year. Most infections go away by themselves within two years, but sometimes it can take longer and can cause cancer of the genitals, in the back of the throat and the tongue.

Since 2006, the CDC has recommended the HPV vaccine, initially in a three-dose series over six months, and then it changed its recommendation to two doses for people before the 15th birthday. The second does should be given six to 12 months after the first dose.

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

Know what’s worse than the risks of getting the HPV vaccine? Getting an HPV-related cancer. Trust me

Source: www.statnews.com
Author: Michael D. Becker

In an era of $500,000 cancer treatments, you’d expect a vaccine series that costs about $300 and helps prevent several types of cancer to be popular with physicians, insurers, and consumers. It’s not, and, as a result, people are dying. I should know — I’m one of them.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause changes in the body that lead to six cancers: cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancer in women; penile cancer in men; and anal cancer in both women and men. It can also cause oropharyngeal cancer — cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils — in both sexes. In the U.S., approximately 30,000 new cancers attributable to HPV are diagnosed each year.

In 2006, the first vaccine became available to protect against HPV infection. I was 38 years old at the time, well above the upper age limit of 26 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends for getting the vaccine. Ideally it should be given before the teen years, but can be given up to age 26.

Uptake of the HPV vaccine in the U.S. is abysmal, with just 49 percent of girls and 37 percent of boys having received the recommended HPV vaccination series.

Individuals who oppose the use of vaccines argue that safety concerns should preclude the use of the HPV vaccine. I disagree. The safety and effectiveness of this vaccine to protect against cancer-causing strains of the HPV virus have been unquestionably proven. Others point to side effects of the HPV vaccine as a reason not to vaccinate young Americans. These may include pain, swelling, redness, itching, bruising, bleeding, or a lump at the injection site as well as headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, tiredness, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and sore throat. Most people who get the vaccine experience no side effects from it other than the pain that accompanies most shots.

Missing from the discussion are the risks of not getting the vaccine. As someone with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer, I can describe a few of them. And I can say with certainty I would gladly have experienced any of the vaccine-related side effects rather than the dozen or so “side effects” of the cancer and its treatment that I’m living with. I’ve illustrated them on the image below.

Some of these side effects, like hair loss, aren’t hazardous. Others are. I’ve spent time in an intensive care unit for my rapid heart rate, and have had to go to the emergency department several times for my pleural effusion and other issues. All of these pale beside the biggest “side effect” — a terminal disease that will eventually take my life.

I urge all parents to talk to your child’s doctor about the HPV vaccine. I wish my parents had that opportunity when I was young, as it could have prevented the cancer that’s killing me.

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|

The Unforgiving Math That Stops Epidemics

Author: Tara C. Smith
Source: www.quantamagazine.org
Date: October 26, 2017

As the annual flu season approaches, medical professionals are again encouraging people to get flu shots. Perhaps you are among those who rationalize skipping the shot on the grounds that “I never get the flu” or “if I get sick, I get sick” or “I’m healthy, so I’ll get over it.” What you might not realize is that these vaccination campaigns for flu and other diseases are about much more than your health. They’re about achieving a collective resistance to disease that goes beyond individual well-being — and that is governed by mathematical principles unforgiving of unwise individual choices.

When talking about vaccination and disease control, health authorities often invoke “herd immunity.” This term refers to the level of immunity in a population that’s needed to prevent an outbreak from happening. Low levels of herd immunity are often associated with epidemics, such as the measles outbreak in 2014-2015 that was traced to exposures at Disneyland in California. A study investigating cases from that outbreak demonstrated that measles vaccination rates in the exposed population may have been as low as 50 percent. This number was far below the threshold needed for herd immunity to measles, and it put the population at risk of disease.

The necessary level of immunity in the population isn’t the same for every disease. For measles, a very high level of immunity needs to be maintained to prevent its transmission because the measles virus is possibly the most contagious known organism. If people infected with measles enter a population with no existing immunity to it, they will on average each infect 12 to 18 others. Each of those infections will in turn cause 12 to 18 more, and so on until the number of individuals who are susceptible to the virus but haven’t caught it yet is down to almost zero. The number of people infected by each contagious individual is known as the “basic reproduction number” of a particular microbe (abbreviated R0), and it varies widely among germs. The calculated R0 of the West African Ebola outbreak was found to be around 2 in a 2014 publication, similar to the R0 computed for the 1918 influenza pandemic based on historical data.

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If the Ebola virus’s R0 sounds surprisingly low to you, that’s probably because you have been misled by the often hysterical reporting about the disease. The reality is that the virus is highly infectious only in the late stages of the disease, when people are extremely ill with it. The ones most likely to be infected by an Ebola patient are caregivers, doctors, nurses and burial workers — because they are the ones most likely to be present when the patients are “hottest” and most likely to transmit the disease. The scenario of an infectious Ebola patient boarding an aircraft and passing on the disease to other passengers is extremely unlikely because an infectious patient would be too sick to fly. In fact, we know of cases of travelers who were incubating Ebola virus while flying, and they produced no secondary cases during those flights.

Note that the R0 isn’t related to how severe an infection is, but to how efficiently it spreads. Ebola killed about 40 percent of those infected in West Africa, while the 1918 influenza epidemic had a case-fatality rate of about 2.5 percent. In contrast, polio and smallpox historically spread to about 5 to 7 people each, which puts them in the same range as the modern-day HIV virus and pertussis (the bacterium that causes whooping cough).

Determining the R0 of a particular microbe is a matter of more than academic interest. If you know how many secondary cases to expect from each infected person, you can figure out the level of herd immunity needed in the population to keep the microbe from spreading. This is calculated by taking the reciprocal of R0 and subtracting it from 1. For measles, with an R0 of 12 to 18, you need somewhere between 92 percent (1 – 1/12) and 95 percent (1 – 1/18) of the population to have effective immunity to keep the virus from spreading. For flu, it’s much lower — only around 50 percent. And yet we rarely attain even that level of immunity with vaccination.

Once we understand the concept of R0, so much about patterns of infectious disease makes sense. It explains, for example, why there are childhood diseases — infections that people usually encounter when young, and against which they often acquire lifelong immunity after the infections resolve. These infections include measles, mumps, rubella and (prior to its eradication) smallpox — all of which periodically swept through urban populations in the centuries prior to vaccination, usually affecting children.

Do these viruses have some unusual affinity for children? Before vaccination, did they just go away after each outbreak and only return to cities at approximately five- to 10-year intervals? Not usually. After a large outbreak, viruses linger in the population, but the level of herd immunity is high because most susceptible individuals have been infected and (if they survived) developed immunity. Consequently, the viruses spread slowly: In practice, their R0 is just slightly above 1. This is known as the “effective reproduction number” — the rate at which the microbe is actually transmitted in a population that includes both susceptible and non-susceptible individuals (in other words, a population where some immunity already exists). Meanwhile, new susceptible children are born into the population. Within a few years, the population of young children who have never been exposed to the disease dilutes the herd immunity in the population to a level below what’s needed to keep outbreaks from occurring. The virus can then spread more rapidly, resulting in another epidemic.

An understanding of the basic reproduction number also explains why diseases spread so rapidly in new populations: Because those hosts lack any immunity to the infection, the microbe can achieve its maximum R0. This is why diseases from invading Europeans spread so rapidly and widely among indigenous populations in the Americas and Hawaii during their first encounters. Having never been exposed to these microbes before, the non-European populations had no immunity to slow their spread.

If we further understand what constellation of factors contributes to an infection’s R0, we can begin to develop interventions to interrupt the transmission. One aspect of the R0 is the average number and frequency of contacts that an infected individual has with others susceptible to the infection. Outbreaks happen more frequently in large urban areas because individuals living in crowded cities have more opportunities to spread the infection: They are simply in contact with more people and have a higher likelihood of encountering someone who lacks immunity. To break this chain of transmission during an epidemic, health authorities can use interventions such as isolation (keeping infected individuals away from others) or even quarantine (keeping individuals who have been exposed to infectious individuals — but are not yet sick themselves — away from others).

Other factors that can affect the R0 involve both the host and the microbe. When an infected person has contact with someone who is susceptible, what is the likelihood that the microbe will be transmitted? Frequently, hosts can reduce the probability of transmission through their behaviors: by covering coughs or sneezes for diseases transmitted through the air, by washing their contaminated hands frequently, and by using condoms to contain the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

These behavioral changes are important, but we know they’re far from perfect and not particularly efficient in the overall scheme of things. Take hand-washing, for example. We’ve known of its importance in preventing the spread of disease for 150 years. Yet studies have shown that hand-washing compliance even by health care professionals is astoundingly low — less than half of doctors and nurses wash their hands when they’re supposed to while caring for patients. It’s exceedingly difficult to get people to change their behavior, which is why public health campaigns built around convincing people to behave differently can sometimes be less effective than vaccination campaigns.

How long a person can actively spread the infection is another factor in the R0. Most infections can be transmitted for only a few days or weeks. Adults with influenza can spread the virus for about a week, for example. Some microbes can linger in the body and be transmitted for months or years. HIV is most infectious in the early stages when concentrations of the virus in the blood are very high, but even after those levels subside, the virus can be transmitted to new partners for many years. Interventions such as drug treatments can decrease the transmissibility of some of these organisms.

The microbes’ properties are also important. While hosts can purposely protect themselves, microbes don’t choose their traits. But over time, evolution can shape them in a manner that increases their chances of transmission, such as by enabling measles to linger longer in the air and allowing smallpox to survive longer in the environment.

By bringing together all these variables (size and dynamics of the host population, levels of immunity in the population, presence of interventions, microbial properties, and more), we can map and predict the spread of infections in a population using mathematical models. Sometimes these models can overestimate the spread of infection, as was the case with the models for the Ebola outbreak in 2014. One model predicted up to 1.4 million cases of Ebola by January 2015; in reality, the outbreak ended in 2016 with only 28,616 cases. On the other hand, models used to predict the transmission of cholera during an outbreak in Yemen have been more accurate.

The difference between the two? By the time the Ebola model was published, interventions to help control the outbreak were already under way. Campaigns had begun to raise awareness of how the virus was transmitted, and international aid had arrived, bringing in money, personnel and supplies to contain the epidemic. These interventions decreased the Ebola virus R0 primarily by isolating the infected and instituting safe burial practices, which reduced the number of susceptible contacts each case had. Shipments of gowns, gloves and soap that health care workers could use to protect themselves while treating patients reduced the chance that the virus would be transmitted. Eventually, those changes meant that the effective R0 fell below 1 — and the epidemic ended. (Unfortunately, comparable levels of aid and interventions to stop cholera in Yemen have not been forthcoming.)

Catch-up vaccinations and the use of isolation and quarantine also likely helped to end the Disneyland measles epidemic, as well as a slightly earlier measles epidemic in Ohio. Knowing the factors that contribute to these outbreaks can aid us in stopping epidemics in their early stages. But to prevent them from happening in the first place, a population with a high level of immunity is, mathematically, our best bet for keeping disease at bay.

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November, 2017|Oral Cancer News|