Tag Archives: genetics

HPV Vaccines: “Prevention Trumps Treatment” (Pedcast)


-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?
-Interesting possibility

-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.
-If you like what you hear, go ahead and write a review on iTunes and subscribe to the fresh new content I put on weekly. Like us on Face book, or follow us on twitter.
-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

Smo Notes




From the Desk of Doc Smo: Could Acetaminophen be Toxic?

Oh no, not again. It is happening again! When I was a doctor-in-training in the trenches with the sickest of the sick in a teaching hospital, we used to take care of children with a disease that is not seen anymore called Reyes Syndrome. The typical story of a child with Reyes syndrome went as follows: a previously healthy teen came down with influenza or chickenpox, and a few days into their illness—when they should have been improving— they started vomiting, getting disoriented and combative and then going into a coma with liver failure. Death was certain without heroic measures by an experienced intensive care team. Can you imagine your child experiencing such a thing?


During the 70’s, a veritable epidemic of Reyes syndrome started occurring all over the country. No one knew what caused the syndrome, but some clever researchers began to believe that the combination of a severe viral infection along with the ingestion of ASPIRIN was to blame. I remember the response that my colleagues and I had to such a simple answer….nonsense.  It can’t be that simple. No way. Well, it turns out that it was that simple.  When children were prevented from taking aspirin when they had a severe viral infection, Reyes syndrome disappeared.  To this day, there are still warnings on aspirin labels discouraging teens from taking aspirin.


Now, let’s fast forward to December 2011 and an article in Pediatrics linking ACETOMENOPHEN (Tylenol) with the increasing incidence of asthma that has occurred in the past 25 years.  Could it be that the ‘trusted,’ ‘safe,’ ‘harmless’ medicine that doctors and families have relied on for control of pain and fever actually triggers asthma in susceptible individuals?  Such talk must be heresy, pure blasphemy. Evidence is building that in genetically susceptible children, taking acetaminophen can CAUSE ASTHMA. Response in the medical field has been largely the same as in the 70’s with ASPIRIN: first disbelief, then skepticism, and finally acceptance.


Thus, another treatment that we once thought was benign may turn out to have unintended consequences. There is no free lunch, and no actions are carried out in a vacuum. Every action has consequences, even those that seem so safe and benign. Both parents and doctors need to rethink medicine from the ground up. Are the benefits great enough to warrant the inevitable unintended consequences? These are calculations for both parents and doctors to make together. I don’t know if we have the final answer yet with regards to the link between Acetaminophen and asthma, but my experience with aspirin in the 70’s has taught me to keep an open mind.  We will see.


John McBride, The Association of Acetaminophen and Asthma Prevalence and Severity, Pediatrics Vol 128, Number 6, December 2011.

What is the “Fever” in Hay Fever? Q and A with “Simon” (Laura Nelle Parnell) (Pedcast)

It’s finally spring time and the earth is exploding with life. With all of the flowers, lush vegetation, and beautiful weather, however, comes something unpleasant — hay fever. In this pedcast, Doc Smo tries to improve your understanding of the concept of hay fever and allergies. Joined by his guest Simon (aka Laura-Nelle Parnell), Doc Smo answers questions about allergies and how your children’s bodies interact with their environment.

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