Grace Gawler Institute: Prof Ian Frazer viruses and cancer – why vaccines are important in cancer prevention

Viruses, bacteria abd parasites are responsible for many cancers Researchers make a rough extrapolation from their data and estimate that of the 7.5 million deaths from cancer in 2008, 1.5 million, or about one in five, were caused by an infection. That’s a lot of deaths from preventable causes! They argue for more work on getting existing vaccines to the populations that need them and continuing research and education on vaccines in places where they’re readily available.

Last Friday I had the pleasure of listening to Professor Ian Frazer speak about his research on viruses and their implications in cancer development. This is an issue that I have been researching for some time. The lecture was both well presented, profound and inspiring. The more I have read the research about viruses and cancer, the more interested I became in education and awareness programs in prevention of virally induced cancers. The Grace Gawler Institute’s association with Dr Ursula Jacob Hallwang private Oncology Clinic and RGCC Greece – a world-class laboratory which specialises in medical genetics and in particular cancer genetics; marks a signpost for the future of genetics  in both prevention and treatment. The Director and founder of RGCC is Dr Ioannis Papasotiriou MD.

While many people are pursuing extreme dietary measures to eradicate their cancers; most do not know about the role that viruses have played in the development of their cancers. Our associates are working diligently on treatments to nullify the effects of viruses once a cancer has already been created; however Professor Ian Frazer and colleagues are working towards prevention and eradication of cancers that are known to be virally charged… and their solution is vaccination of young people in the high risk groups. Perhaps the most prevalent of these oncogenetic viruses is HPV (human papilloma virus) – Over eighty different types of HPV have been identified. Some are harmless and unsightly while others are very dangerous for example HPV 16 and HPV 18. Some studies suggest that with conventional treatments survival outcomes are better if the virus is located as a cause

Above  image Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

New Vaccination Program: Boys aged 12 – 13 will receive the vaccine through school-based programs under the National Immunisation Program, with Year 9 boys also included in a two-year catch-up plan.

The HPV vaccine has already contributed to a decrease in pre-cancerous cervical lesions in young women.

When administered to males, it will help prevent cancers of the genital tract, some types of head and neck cancers, and it will also enhance the vaccine’s effectiveness in women. With sexual activity occurring at earlier ages in combination with the types of sexual practises promoted today, these sexually transmitted viruses acquired in teenage years are responsible for many cancers in the 30- 40’s age bracket. HPV is also implicated in anal cancers and now implicated in some skin cancers.

Anti vaccination groups or individuals will likely be against the latest government objective when most Young Australian males will receive the HPV vaccine (Gardasil) free of charge in a world-first public health measure that will help prevent a range of cancers. Professor Frazer addressed this issue saying “There’s a very small group of people out there, who argue that we shouldn’t use vaccines, and they influence a much larger group of people not to get their children properly immunised,” he said. He has been involved in making a documentary that will provide a counter argument to the small minority that vaccines are safe and wonderful.”

Dr Frazer spoke about Bhutan which has one of the highest incidences of cervical cancer per head of population in the world. He estimates that Bhutan would take about 15-20 years from today to see a decrease in cervical cancer, he said, the time it takes between the virus infection and when one gets cancer. The girls that Bhutan is immunising today, at 12, he said, would be at the “maximum risk of cervical cancer in their 30s and 40s” and, by then by, there should be “virtually no cervical cancer in those girls.” Recommended extra reading:

FYI – Other viruses, bacteria and parasites known to cause cancers: Continue reading “Grace Gawler Institute: Prof Ian Frazer viruses and cancer – why vaccines are important in cancer prevention”