Can we talk about this?

Current thinking is that the human papilloma virus (HPV) causes cervical cancer and that all girls and boys in early high school need to be given HPV vaccines. In my book Gardasil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed I trace the early history of cervical cancer from a disease of obscurity to one of mainstream prominence. I have found and documented the numerous theories about the cause(s) of cervical cancer which have come and gone over the decades. I have read and written about how in the early years of the nineteenth century physicians claimed that sex was involved for it was observed that the disease was found in larger numbers among poorer, city women than amongst women in long term and stable relationships and in women who were living in rural areas. It was also thought that the disease was very rare in nuns until further research showed that religious sisters were subject to the disease too, and that, contrary to prevailing opinion, women in long-term relationships also developed cervical cancer. It was suggested that in the case of cancer of the uterus that the trauma of childbirth itself could be a risk factor. Such speculation might explain why there was more cervical cancer among women of low socioeconomic status than among women of means. Poorer women tended to have more children, lived harsher lives and possibly received less medical care, as well as missing out on much-needed rest and recovery time after the birth of their children.

I believe these early researchers were on the right track when they suspected that social circumstances such as poverty and inequality were in some way implicated in the disease process. British psychologist, author and researcher Susan Quilliam documented these lifestyle factors that might increase the chance of becoming ill with cervical cancer in her 1989 book Positive Smear. Written just before the idea that the human papillomavirus might be involved, she stressed the importance of a balanced diet and claimed that deficiencies in vitamin C, beta carotene and folic acid were common in women with cervical precancerous cells. Quilliam strongly emphasised the importance of a healthy environment, good hygiene and excellent nutrition as prerequisites for good health and resistance to disease. When discussing the causes of cervical cancer, she doesn’t shy away from a conversation about the contraceptive pill and how it has a negative effect on natural immunity as well as a propensity to lessen the body’s ability to use folic acid.

Today such environmental and socioeconomic factors relevant to the causation of cervical cancer are rarely considered. Instead the human papilloma virus is said to cause cervical cancer, no questions asked or answered.  Why, when and how this has happened is crucial to the story of Gardasil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed.

 

Gardasil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed

 

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Forthcoming June Release

In Gardasil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed  Helen Lobato argues that we do not know whether HPV vaccines will decrease the incidence of cervical cancer. What is emerging, however, is evidence of their harmful effects. In 2006, the experimental HPV vaccination program began and there have been at least 315 associated deaths and more than 50,000 adverse events following HPV vaccination.

Gardasil was fast-tracked through the FDA, a process usually reserved for life threatening diseases to fill an unmet and urgent medical need. Improved living conditions had already reduced the incidence of cervical cancer significantly in Western countries. So why is the HPV vaccine so heavily promoted in Australia, a country with one of the lowest rates of cervical cancer in the world?

Gardasil: Fast-Tracked and Flawed documents the early history of cervical cancer and tracks its progression from a disease of obscurity to one of mainstream prominence. It includes the stories of vaccinated girls and boys who remain ill after receiving a vaccine purported to prevent a disease they were most unlikely to get. It records the voices of dissenters and resisters who call for an inquiry into HPV vaccines approved for use after a relentless propaganda campaign promoting a vaccine against a virus that many had never heard of.

This in-depth investigation exposes cracks in the pharmaceutical industry and highlights the problems that arise when government regulators and corporate interests are prioritized ahead of patient safety, independent science and common sense.

To order: women@spinifexpress.com.au

In search of cerebral content

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What happened to the opinion page? Remember The Age  when it was a broadsheet and there were three or more opinion pieces in the middle pages that bordered the letters to the editor. These were lengthy pieces of analysis  on topics relating to current public debate. Usually 800-1000 words of worthy content  engaging the reader and leading to enjoyable swapping of ideas and information among family and friends later in the day. Of course there are still opinion pieces  in The Age but these are poor replacements, and badly positioned so as not to be  easily seen and rarely read.

And as for ABC radio: Jonathan Holmes former host on ABC TV’s ‘Media Watch’ and now a columnist at The Age recently wrote about content in this digital era lamenting the fact that on Radio National, long-form, specialist journalism is being down-sized in favour of the radio equivalent of fast food. This is sad for those of us who like to read and listen to programs that make us think and not just designed to dumb us down.

Article%20Lead%20-%20narrow6376523111ysdvimage_related_articleLeadNarrow_353x0_11ypkf_png1417557002488_jpg-300x0And it’s not just radio, TV and newsprint that are changing for the worse, it’s the cinema too. Reflecting on her 28 years presenting ‘The Movie Show’, retiring presenter Margaret Pomeranz says: the big change has been how much money has come to dominate the industry, with studios bankrolling sequels but not taking risks on smaller films.

And then there’s the publishing industry – same problem, different product. This time it’s books and the wonderful ideas within that are at risk from technology giants such as Google, Amazon and Apple .

The blurb for  Bibliodiversity: A Manifesto for Independent Publishing written by Susan Hawthorne reads:  In a globalised world, megacorp publishing is all about numbers, about sameness, about following a formula based on the latest megasuccess. Each book is expected to pay for itself and all the externalities of publishing such as offices and CEO salaries. It means that books which take off slowly but have long lives, the books that change social 269norms, are less likely to be published.

Independent publishers such as Susan Hawthorne of Spinifex Press are seeking another way. A way of engagement with society and methods that reflect something important about the locale or the niche they inhabit. In  Bibliodiversity Hawthorne writes that Independent and small publishers are like rare plants that pop up among the larger growth but add something different, perhaps they feed the soil, bring colour or scent into the world.

We need to cherish our remaining newspapers, our beleaguered ABC , and nurture our book and movie industries from which we gain so much.  And in the words of author P.D James who died last week: Write what you need to write, not what is currently popular or what you think will sell.

And hang on to the dwindling hope that good content sees the light of day in a world where money, not thought, rules.

Write what you need to write!

P.D. James on writing:
Screen shot 2014-11-28 at 4.39.11 PM“Write what you need to write, not what is currently popular or what you think will sell.” (more…)

The ‘moral right of women’ or DIY backyard abortion 21st century style

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 Where the French inventor of the abortion pill RU 486 Etienne-Emile Beaulieu promoted his controversial drug as the ‘moral right of women’, the researchers and authors of RU 486: Misconceptions, Myths and Morals fear the chemical abortifacient has the potential to become ‘the new DIY backyard abortion  21st century style’.  (more…)

Female writers do it tough

 

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Literary editor of The Age, Jason Steger has written that while ‘female writers are still doing it tough’, data produced by Bookseller & Publisher shows the situation is improving – at least on Sundays with The Sunday Age percentage split between men and women 45-55 and the Sunday Territorian 50-50. (more…)

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