Archive for November 28th, 2008

Umm…no, they don’t

28 November, 2008

For shame, New Scientist!!  There I go recommending you to all and sundry – and especially my students – as a fount of general scientific knowledge, and you do this!!  In the 22nd November issue – freshly on my desk, down here in the Deepest South – there is, under the column heading “60 Seconds”, the following snippet:

Shot thwarts warts

A human papilloma virus vaccine already approved in women to prevent cervical cancer has proved equally effective in men against genital wartswhich can lead to cervical cancer in women. In a trial of the vaccine in 4000 men only three recipients developed HPV-related lesions compared with 31 who received a placebo.

Note the bolded section: BECAUSE IT IS VERY WRONG. 

No, New Scientist, genital warts in men do NOT lead to cervical cancer in women: warts in men and women are caused by a number of what are termed “low risk” viruses (for low cancer risk), and especially by HPV types 6 and 11 – which are two of the types included in Merck’s Gardasil.  The other two types in this vaccine – which are the same ones as in GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix – are the high cancer risk HPV types 16 and 18.  Which do NOT cause genital warts, in men or women: rather, they cause inapparent infections of the epithelial tissue of the penis in men, and of the vaginal and cervical mucosa in women. 

The lesions can most often only be seen in both men and women after they have been painted with an acetic acid solution – hence the name “aceto-white lesion”.

The fact that warts are apparently prevented in men is a very welcome development: this means that in all likelihood the other infections will be prevented too, and men will not be able to transmit HPV 16 and 18 to women.

Which is presumably what you meant.