According to a new report by Cochrane, HPV vaccines protect against cervical cancer in young women, especially when the women are vaccinated between the ages of 15 and 26.
The human papillomavirus or HPV spreads through intimate contact during sex with someone who is infected. In some women, an HPV infection will persist and lead to cervical cancer.
The report authors, who examined evidence from 26 previously published studies of more than 70,000 women, also found no serious side effect risks associated with the HPV vaccines.
Most people who have sexual contact will be exposed to HPV at some time. Even if exposed, most women will clear the viral infection naturally. However, a persistent infection could lead to abnormal cervical cells, called cervical “precancer” which can slowly progress to cancer if not treated.
Lead author Dr. Marc Arbyn of the Unit of Cancer Epidemiology at the Belgian Cancer Centre in Brussels said: “Cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer in women in the world,”
According to Arbyn, more than half a million cases are diagnosed each year, and about half of these women will die of the disease.
Prof. Helen Bedford of the University College London’s Institute of Child Health, noted that “HPV vaccine was introduced 10 years ago for 13- to 14-year-old girls to prevent infection with HPV, which can lead to cancer of the cervix.”
The World Health Organization recommends HPV vaccination for both girls and boys between the ages of 9 and 14.
However, the research team estimated the effects of HPV vaccines were smaller in older women vaccinated between the ages 25 and 45.
There are claims and reports that the vaccine causes neurological issues including seizures.
Dr. Jo Morrison, a consultant in gynecological oncology at Musgrove Park Hospital in Somerset in the UK who was not part of the study said the claims that the HPV vaccines damages young girls “are not substantiated by the evidence.”