News / Edmonton

Alberta study shows HPV vaccine is 'very effective'

Study is first of its kind in North America

A new Alberta study has demonstrated the effectiveness of HPV vaccines.

File / Toronto Star

A new Alberta study has demonstrated the effectiveness of HPV vaccines.

An Alberta study has proven the effectiveness of the HPV vaccination in protecting against cervical cancer, according to doctors.

Dr. Huiming Yang, who co-authored the study that was published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, says it is the first in North America to demonstrate the vaccine’s effectiveness.

“It was what we hoped for, because the clinical trial data years ago basically showed similar results,” Yang said. “And now we basically have proof that this worked with a real population.”

The study tested more than 10,200 women born between 1994 and 1997 who had at least one pap test between 2012 and 2015.

It found the vaccination is “very effective” in reducing cervical cell abnormalities. Women who completed all three doses of the vaccine were 50 per cent less likely to develop hybrid lesions that have a higher potential to become cancerous later in life.

“That’s a very significant finding,” Yang said.

Alberta introduced a human papillomavirus vaccination program for Grade 5 and Grade 9 girls in 2008, and expanded the program to boys in 2014.

The vaccine protects against two strains of HPV that cause about 70 per cent of cervical cancers, as well as genital warts and some throat cancers.

Yang said the study should serve as a reminder to the general public to encourage their children to be vaccinated.

He also cautions those who are vaccinated to remain vigilant, as other strains of HPV can still lead to cancer. He said regular pap tests are important for sexually active women age 25 and older.

“Even for those who are vaccinated, when age appropriate, they should continue to have regular cancer screening,” he said.

Meanwhile, anti-vaccine sentiment is still alive in Edmonton. The Princess Theatre came under fire from health professionals this week for screening anti-vaccine film Vaxxed directed by Andrew Wakefield, whose 1998 study claiming links between autism and vaccines has been thoroughly discredited.

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