-Your host here, Dr Paul Smolen, here to continue your free pediatric education with information parents can use from gestation to graduation.
-What I like about pediatrics is that it is a preventative specialty.
-It is much easier to prevent an illness than treat one, especially cancer.
-You heard me right, cancer.
-I remember the microbiology lecture in med school where the Professor said emphatically, “No human cancers are caused by viruses”
-What a frightening thought… a virus that you could catch that might give you cancer, spread around like the common cold!
-Time has proven that this statement was wrong, wrong, wrong…there are actually many viruses that are known about that can cause cancer which is our topic of discussion today.
-So sit back and turn up the volume so you don’t miss any of today’s, DocSmo.com
Cancer seems to be a genetic disease. It is the genes in the cell that control all aspects of a cell’s function… including its rate of reproduction.
-Sometimes when things go bad, the genes that say to the cell, divide and grow, are stuck in the on position, leading to uncontrolled growth. These out of control dividing cells are called cancer cells.
-They just can’t stop dividing and multiplying. They begin to crowd out all of their neighbors and eventually spread beyond the tumor.
-So how do these bad genes get into cells? Good question.
-We know that carcinogens such as chemicals and radiation, can damage our genes but how about if the genes are inserted into our chromosomes when we get a viral infection?
-The answer turns out to be a big yes.
-Here are the viral infections that we know of today that can directly or indirectly cause cancer:
Hepatitis B and C
Epstein Barr virus that causes mononucleosis
And finally, a group of viruses called HPV viruses
-If you have children who you have been dragging to the pediatrician, you will recognize a few of these infections as vaccines that are recommended at their visits… the Hepatitis B vaccine that is recommended to be given to newborns and the HPV vaccines recommended for preteens.
-These two vaccines are both safe and extremely effective. If every child were to be vaccinated at the appropriate time with these vaccines, it is thought by experts that essentially all liver cancer caused by Hep B would be eliminated and 70% of abnormal pap smears and cervical cancers caused by HPV wouldn’t happen.
-Remember this DocSmo pearl, “Prevention trumps treatment”.
-In my November 2011 Pediatrics journal, there is an article looking at the HPV vaccine rates for girls 13-17, during the 2008-9 in the US.… at that time, only about 20% of these girls had completed the HPV series of 3 shots. Hopefully we are doing better now.
-In Australia of all places, the government has made a big effort to vaccinate all of their teen girls.
-And it is working. Recent evidence, just a few years after they started making the HPV shots a priority, found that rates of very abnormal PAP smears ( early cervical cancers) have fallen dramatically, by 38% in just a few years.
-The Australians are going to reap tremendous benefits from their efforts to vaccinate because far fewer of their children are going to get cervical cancer. remember, “Prevention trumps treatment”.
-You may be aware that in October of 2011, the Center for Disease control is now recommending HPV vaccines for the boys… this is going to hopefully hasten the day when these cancer viruses disappear altogether. We’ve done it before… anyone seen a case of polio or smallpox recently?
-So the next time your pediatrician suggests one of those shots be given to your son or daughter, even if they squawk, even if frightens you or them, even if it is expensive, even if you would rather get home sooner and not wait for the nurse to get the shot….do it.
-You will be glad you did.
-The “experts” seem to almost always be right when it comes to infectious disease recommendations. They have a great track record so when they do something, I listen, and you should too.
-That wraps up our discussion today. I hope you found it informative and relevant.
-The pediatric blog known as DocSmo.com is beginning to catch on and you can help.
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-As always, your comments are welcome and I will try and respond personally
-This is Dr Paul Smolen, your pedcast host, broadcasting from Studio 1E, hoping you won’t hesitate to take your little tot for their next shot.
Until Next time