HPV Vaccine: The Safe Choice for Your Kids

Dear Mr. Dad: I have boy/girl twins who are 11. Their pediatrician suggested that my daughter get a vaccine for HPV, but he didn’t offer it to my son. I’ve got three questions. First, why didn’t he suggest the vaccine for my son? Second, why are they offering a vaccine against sexually transmitted diseases to 11-year-olds anyway—isn’t that too early? Third, it seems to me that vaccinating kids against STDs will only make them more likely to have sex and less careful than they ordinarily would be. Am I right?

A: That’s a lot of questions, so let’s jump right in. But a warning: This column will include some adult words, so reader discretion is advised.

Your pediatrician should have recommended the HPV vaccine to your son. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vast majority of a number of cancers are attributed to HPV. For girls, these include cancer of the cervix or anus (over 90%), vagina and throat (over 75%). Boys are also just as susceptible to anal and throat cancers, plus HPV causes nearly two thirds of cancers of the penis. HPV is also linked with nearly 100% of genital warts—an equal opportunity STD.
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New HPV Vaccine Even More Effective than Before

The Food and Drug Administration just approved Gardasil 9, which covers nine types of HPV (Human Papillomavirus). The previous version of Gardasil covered only 4 types of the virus, which is responsible for many cancers and other conditions. According to the FDA, Gardasil 9 has the potential to prevent approximately 90 percent of cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers, and genital warts. Current recommendations are that boys and girls be vaccinated starting at age 11. Anyone under 26 who hasn’t been vaccinated should be.

You’d think that with results like that, parents would be lining up to get their children vaccinated. But you’d be wrong. Way wrong. The New York City Health Department found earlier this year that only 47% of boys aged 13-17 and 64% of girls aged 13-17 in have received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine. In order to be most effective, three doses are recommended. But just 40% of girls aged 13-17 and 22% of boys aged 13-17 in New York City have received all three doses. Those numbers varied greatly, depending on the section of the city. In Manhattan, 45.5% to 60.2% of girls aged 13-17 and 15.7% to 26.1% of boys aged 13-17 received all three dose, says the Health Department. But in Staten Island, Central/Southern Brooklyn, and Greenpoint/Williamsburg, just 5.8% to 25.1% of girls aged 13-17 and 0% to 5.9% of boys aged 13-17 had received all three doses.
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Did You Eat Your Vegetables? Really? Are You Sure?

We all know that we should be eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and we all know about the many health benefits, including reductions in diabetes, cardiovascular events (heart disease, heart attack, stroke), and even some cancers. Only 11 percent of the U.S. population currently meets the daily targets for vegetable consumption, while just 20 percent meet the guideline for fruit, according to researchers at Yale. Asking people—especially kids—whether they’ve eaten what they’re supposed to produces notoriously inaccurate results. But researchers have discovered that a special laser that measure a compound in the skin can tell exactly how much we’re getting.

Depending on your age, sex, and level of physical activity, we should eat anywhere from 1 cup to 3 cups of fruits and veggies every day. Visually, that’s about half of everything on our plate at every meal. And most of us tend to greatly overestimate how much we’re actually eating. The compound being measured is called carotenoids, and levels vary according to fruit and vegetable intake.
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Aspirin May Reduce Pancreatic Cancer Risk

If you’ve had a heart attack or a stroke or your medical professional thinks you may be at risk of having one, he or she may have prescribed daily aspirin therapy. Even at very low doses, aspirin thins your blood, which makes clots less likely to happen. That can be either bad news or good. On the bad side, if you cut yourself, scabs (a type of blood clot) would take longer to form and you might bleed longer. On the good side, blood clots that block arteries can lead directly to a heart attack and/or a stroke.

Now there may be another reason to regularly take aspirin: it may reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 50%–and the longer you take the aspirin, the lower your risk, according to a new study done at Yale University, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
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Radiation For Prostate Cancer Has Proven Once Again That It Leads To More Complications Than Surgery

For men with prostate cancer, deciding whether to opt for radiation or surgical removal of the gland can be overwhelming. How does one decide with the risks such as the unpleasant side-effect of erectile dysfunction and incontinence? With prostate cancer the 2nd most common malignancy, second only to skin cancer. Unfortunately over 240,000 men are diagnosed with the disease every year, translating into 1 in every 6 men being affected by prostate cancer.

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Radiation

Many people who’ve had cancer that has metastasized to their bones have had to endure multiple doses of radiation to control the pain. But it doesn’t have to be that way. According to recent research, a single dose is just as effective at controlling pain as multiple ones. The study, led by Justin Bekelman and […]