Thanks Tony Abbott

by Helen Lobato

The Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott announces on International Women's Day that all is set for the cervical cancer vaccination campaign to start.

(herald Sun

Should Australian women be thankful for this assurance metered out to them on IWD? I think not!

Just for starters this cancer is responsible for the deaths of about 270 women.

I won't use the emotive words of The Herald Sun " and more than 270 are killed by it". No these are deaths, not murders we are speaking about.

Who were these women? Were they young women, old women, young girls perhaps?

Cervical cancer tends to occur in midlife. Half of women diagnosed with this cancer are between the ages of 35 and 55. It rarely occurs in women younger than 20. We can assume then that the other half are old women who will have to die from something and quite possibly a cancer, so why wouldn't it be cervical cancer.

So here we have 270 Australian women who have died of cervical cancer, half of whom are old women and we are rolling out a national campaign to vaccinate schoolgirls near and far.

And furthermore there is no proof that cervical cancer is caused by the virus HPV that the vaccine Gardasil is supposed to protect them from...

My reason for believing that HPV doesn't cause cervical cancer is because of the work of Peter Duesberg who wrote 'Inventing the Aids Virus" 1996

In his book he has a chapter on cervical cancer. He explains that back in 1960-70's cervical cancer became the single most important virus-cancer project of all time. Virologists of the time started to look for a viral cause for cervical cancer after an Italian doctor found the tumour more often among married women than nuns.

To the eager bacteria hunters, this could only mean that sexual activity was the risk factor for the cancer. First they blamed the herpes virus but when it was discovered that the cancer appeared only years after the original herpes infection, scientists were forced to construct another hypothesis. Also as more data was collected it was seen that 85% of American adults had been infected by this same herpes virus including women without a hint of the cancer. Even in the women with both the cancer and past herpes virus infection, the left over peices of the virus were always different and inactive, meaning that no particular part of the herpes virus was needed to cause the cancer. The idea that herpes virus caused cervical cancer was thrown out.

Enter HPV.

In 1977 a former herpes virologist proposed another virus as the agent causing cervical cancer. This time it was the human papilloma virus, the mild virus that causes warts.He found broken, leftover pieces of papilloma virus DNA in the tumour cells of some patients. The evidence for HPV fell apart when it was discovered that at least half the adult population had been infected by the virus yet only about 1 percent of women develop cancer and at least one third of all women with cervical cancer have never been infected with the virus. An incredibly long time elapses between infection by the virus ( in those who do get infected) and the the onset of the tumour. Papilloma virus tends to be contracted by women who are younger and more sexually active-estimated at an average twenty years of age. Cervical cancer, a disease of old age strikes women in their forties through their seventies which means a latent period of 20 to 50 years.

As with all cancers, the dynamics of cervical cancer development does not match the behaviour of viruses. Papilloma viruses cause papillomas or warts on young sexually active adults. These small overgrowths of slightly abnormal cells can appear and disappear almost overnight and are not malignant. The immune system recognises the viral proteins and rejects the warts together with the wart virus.

But cancers are diseases of old age; they develop slowly over many years. Cervical cancers develop from benign hyperplasias, excessive growths of nearly normal cervical tissue. Most of these hyperplasias disappear while some grow into dysplasias or cancer. The major feature of cancer progression is that it is irregular and gradual quite unlike the rapid and consistent development of warts. While virus hunters have speculated that wart virus might somehow further the development of cervical cells into cancer cells the reverse may be true. The active cell growth in dysplasis may simply encourage papilloma viruses to become more active.

The final blow to the hypothesis lies in the fact that equal numbers of men and women have genital warts yet rarely do men contract penile cancers. A cancer virus that can infect both sexes should cause tumours in both sexes equally.

Perhaps better explanations exist in some of the risk factors for cervical cancer: Other than aging, two of the most important coinciding with the tumour are long-term smoking and oral contraceptive use. Oral contraceptives contain powerful steroid hormones that directly regulate the function of cervical tissues and might explain the superficial correlation between cervical cancer risk and the number of sexual contacts a woman has had.

Further research reveals that 60 years ago cancer of the cervix was the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S surpassing even those from breast cancer. The death rate began to fall in the 1940ís and has continued to fall, in spite of the sexual revolution, third world immigration and the prevalence of HPV. The reason for this large decrease is unknown. It began before Pap test screening became prevalent. Cervical cancer is still the leading cause of cancer deaths in women in many third world countries. I suggest that it may have much to do with the nutrition and general improved health amongst the western nations.

My concern is that all of these factors are being overlooked in the rush to vaccinate our young children with the cervical cancer vaccine. The human papilloma virus may be present but then as we know it is ubiquitous in the population. Cancer of the cervix is far more likely to be caused by carcinogens such as cigarette smoke, coupled with poor nutrition making us more likely to be adversely affected by these carcinogens. Very little attention is paid to the social, economic and industrial conditions that may make some women more vulnerable to cancer especially when there is billions to be made from vaccines.

But never mind all that, the gardasil assault of Australian girls is right on track. Thank you Tony Abbott, I don't think!.