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Cervical Cancer Vaccine

I don't have time for a lengthy post about this, but there's some important cancer news out today. Gardasil, Merck's cervical cancer vaccine, was approved by the FDA. I'm having trouble finding a thorough news story about this, but here's a good quote from a different story:

… researchers presented data showing Merck's Gardasil was 100 percent effective at preventing pre-cancerous growths in the vagina or vulva caused by two HPV strains. It also was 81 percent effective at preventing the same conditions if they were caused by any HPV type, said Dr. Jorma Paavonen, the study's lead author and chief physician at the University of Helsinki's obstetrics and gynecology department. [source]

It's important to understand that this is a vaccine, not a cure — it prevents infections that can lead to cancer, but does not cure cancer once developed. Nonetheless, it's an extremely valuable medical advance, and Merck deserves accolades for bringing it to production. Well done!

I hope that publicity around this vaccine will educate people that cancer can be caused by infections. I've long since lost any patience for the anti-scientific mentality that generically blames "chemicals" and other "toxins" for cancer, when in this case the culprit is a perfectly natural virus. A virus that now we can prevent … with a chemical.

Two hearty hurrahs for chemistry and for the germ theory of disease! This is a triumph of science over nature. We deserve, as a species, to bask in this victory.

Tiny Island