HPV and lung cancer

Responding to a barrage of criticism for signing on executive order that will force adolescent girls to receive the HPV vaccine regimen, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is quoted in the Houston Chronicle today saying, "If the medical community developed a vaccine for lung cancer, would the same critics oppose it claiming it would encourage smoking?"

I have thought of that analogy myself.  It is perfect.  Lung cancer is predominantly caused by cigarette smoking, which is currently a politically incorrect behaviorChicago and Illinois lawmakers have increasingly sought to discourage this behavior by making it more difficult to carry out this behavior.

So to answer Perry's question, we would welcome a lung cancer vaccine but wouldn't turn around and say, "Great, let's all smoke!"  Because we know smoking causes a myriad of other cancers as well as health problems like emphysema and hardening of the arteries.  Furthermore, we know this behavior has secondary consequences of endangering the health of other people who come in contact with the smoker.

Debbie winokur.jpgSo when actress Marissa Jaret Winokur and IL state Sen. Debbie Halvorson admitted they had HPV and worried others might get it, you would think they'd focus on their behavior that caused them to contract that sexually transmitted disease.

Winokur and Halvorson would be most helpful by discussing the health consequences of pre- or extra-marital sex.  Here are some potential topics:

  • They could discuss the number of sex partners they have had throughout their lifetime and how each one increased the likelihood of contracting HPV. 
  • If they even had only one sex partner aside from their husbands, they could discuss how one can contract HPV from a sole encounter. 
  • They could discuss whether they realized at the time their sex partners carried HPV, which most trusting, vulnerable women don't. 
  • They could disclose whether it was their husbands who passed HPV on to them after sleeping with other women, demonstrating another reason for chaste behavior outside the marraige bedroom. 
  • More uncomfortably, if they contracted HPV through rape, they could discuss ways to avoid rape.

But neither one advocates avoiding a risky behavior that leads not only to HPV but to 20+ other STDs and their strains, along with unplanned pregnancy.  They merely advocate trying to avoid the consequences of risky behavior.  Shame on them.


You failed to answer the question- would you oppose a vaccine for lung cancer? My guess is you wouldn't. And why is that? Because it would be cruel to prevent people from getting a vaccine for a disease that could very well kill them, regardless of whether or not you think that the disease is a worthy punishment for their misbehavior. You have absolutely no idea how either of these women contracted the disease. They both could very well have contracted it from their husbands- but it doesn't matter HOW they got it, because cervical cancer is not a fitting punishment for something you feel is wrong (althought 95% of American have had pre-marital sex, so I hazard a guess most would disagree with you!). These women owe us nothing more than their best advice- which is get the vaccine, and be aware of HPV. There are so many things wrong with your suggestions I don't know where to begin, but I will say that I find it mightily offensive that you would dare suggest that rape victim offer advice on how not to get raped. It's not their fault they were the victim of a violent crime and placing the responsibility for preventing rape in their hands is not only foolish but much of the reason so few survivors of sexual assault come forward. If you were the victim of rape, how would you feel if someone suggested that you were to blame (otherwise, it wouldn't have happened) so therefore you owed us ways to prevent it from happening again. You obviously hate women and you hate women who are intelligent and don't buy into your ranting lunacy.

Posted by: Sara at February 6, 2007 9:12 PM


We could conceivably create vaccines for hundreds of diseases.

Now, are you going to subject your children's bodies to every vaccine available for every disease out there, or will you consider risk factors?

The fact is most people with lung cancer smoked or received second-hand smoke. It is a big risk factor.

And HPV is a sexually transmitted disease.

And most people with HIV either engaged in male-to-male sex or used infected needles when shooting up.

Any exceptions to the above are rare.

If an HIV or lung cancer vaccine becomes available, I will take those risk factors into account before deciding whether to be vaccinated against them, or HPV. I would follow the same rationale if I still had children at home to consider.

Posted by: Jill Stanek at February 7, 2007 11:00 AM

If a woman never has sex with anyone but a husband who has never had sex with anyone but her, she has a near 100% chance of avoiding cervical cancer caused by HPV.

However, the vaccine is 95-100% effective (http://www.fda.gov/womens/getthefacts/hpv.html) at preventing 70% of cervical cancer.

Hmm... which route is more likely to cost women their lives, abstinence or vaccination?

Posted by: Michelle at February 7, 2007 1:58 PM

BTW, why do people keep saying we're opposed to the vaccine itself? I personally see no reason to get it (I'm only 25, it would still be effective for me) since I'm not at risk. But I don't oppose anyone else getting the vaccine, either. And Jill hasn't said that she has. She's only said (and I agree) that it is irresponsible to ignore the true cause of this deadly disease, which is having sex outside of a lifetime monogamous relationship.

The lung cancer analogy is beautiful. If a vaccine for lung cancer was developed, I'd get it. I've never been a smoker, but I have been exposed to second-hand smoke by others my whole life and I'm likely to continue that exposure until my darling husband succeeds at kicking the habit. But would I say, "Ok, now that makes it ok for me to smoke"? Would I tell my kids, "Hey, you're going to smoke anyway, let's get you this vaccine now"? Would I say that anyone who thought not smoking would be a better than a vaccine for avoiding lung cancer was trying to condemn me to death? Certainly not! I'd be among them, encouraging people not to start smoking and to quit if they've started already! Why? Because smoking, like pre-marital and extra-marital sex, kills people!

I don't want any woman to die of cervical cancer or any STD, which is why I encourage them to do the one thing that will almost certainly prevent it. Don't be stupid; don't risk your life.

Posted by: Michelle at February 7, 2007 2:14 PM

"More uncomfortably, if they contracted HPV through rape, they could discuss ways to avoid rape."

You ignored Sara's comment concerning this, and I'd like an answer- why did you put that suggestion there? It seems like you believe it's the victim's fault that she/he got raped. How does one "avoid" rape anyway? It's impossible to know when it will occur; otherwise people WOULD avoid it!

Posted by: Leah at February 7, 2007 11:54 PM

As a matter of fact, HPV is involved in ten times as many lung cancers as are pretended to have been caused by secondhand smoke! (At least 22% of cases.)


The studies blaming secondhand smoke are all worthless, because they are based on nothing but lifestyle questionnaires. All it takes is a slightly higher prevalence of exposure to HPV among ETS-exposed nonsmokers to generate a false and spurious supposed "risk" from ETS. The anti-smokers have been exploiting this fact for decades in order to falsely blame smoking and secondhand smoke for diseases that are really caused by infection.

As if that's not bad enough, the EPA ETS report was written by handpicked anti-smokers, using illegal pass-through contracts to conceal their role, because the real EPA scientists were against calling ETS a human carcinogen. Furthermore, on the board of directors of the crooked EPA contractor sat a crony of George W. Bush and a bigshot Democrat - hence the bipartisan coverup. The EPA ETS report is the most fraudulent and corrupt report ever written!


Posted by: Carol AS Thompson at February 13, 2007 4:13 PM

I would think an intelligent woman, or one presenting herself as such, would go beyond the easy canned quips and take time to become more educated on the topic. Has it not occured to you that many women contract HPV through very traditional marital relations? Hve you not spoken to an actual health care provider specializing in women's health? Shame on you to present any woman with HPV as a harlot - and further shame if you write it off as just punishment for their spouse's earlier behaviors. The fact of the matter is many of these unsuspecting women are the champions of values and morals; just as many of them are young mothers facing death by cervical cancer through no fault of their own.
Don't confuse liberal with educated, it makes you look very foolish indeed.

Posted by: Heather at February 19, 2007 10:02 PM

Heather, yes it has occurred to me that women may contract HPV by marrying men who have slept with other women. In fact, I have written, "There is only one good reason a virtuous young woman should consider getting the HPV vaccination. That is if the man she plans to marry has had sex with other women, meaning he could be infected with HPV or an array of other STDs."

Furthermore, you malign me to say I "write [HPV] off as just punishment for their spouse's earlier behaviors." Show me where you think I have said that.

Finally, you said, "Shame on you to present any woman with HPV as a harlot." Again, show me where you think I have said that.

The fact is HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can only be contracted through pre- or extra-marital sex. Liberals have a problem with this and try to twist words and attack the messenger for pointing back to promiscuous sex as the reason for HPV and cervical cancer. It is liberals who feign education about HPV.

Posted by: Jill Stanek at February 20, 2007 5:37 AM