Is there truly a link between the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and development of multiple sclerosis or other similar diseases?
Some reports suggest yes, but a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no increased risk for these disorders.
According to Forbes.com, multiple sclerosis is a type of central demyelinating disease. Myelin, the protective cover around nerves, breaks down and prevents electrical impulses from traveling fast and efficiently across nerve cells.
HPV, a sexually transmitted disease, can cause cervical cancer and contribute to anal, head, neck and penile cancers.
Since the HPV vaccine was released in 2006, more than 175 million doses have been distributed worldwide.
In order to test a possible link between the HPV vaccine and MS, Dr. Nikolai Madrid Scheller, of the Statens Serum Institut in Denmark, and his colleagues examined the records of nearly 4 million girls and women from 2006-2013. Their ages ranged from 10-44 years.
The researchers used Danish and Swedish nationwide registers to identify their study group, HPV vaccination information, and data on incident diagnoses of MS and other demyelinating diseases.
Approximately 789,000 females in the study group received an HPV vaccine during the review period, totaling slightly more than 1.9 million doses.
After the researchers excluded those who had previously been diagnosed with MS or another demyelinating disease, they tracked all first-time diagnoses of multiple sclerosis and other demyelinating diseases.
In the review period, slightly more than 4,300 of the participants were diagnosed with MS. Of these cases, 73 occurred within the two-year risk period for side effects after vaccination.
The researchers also identified 3,300 cases of other demyelinating diseases, with 90 occurring within the two-year risk period.
These numbers may sound alarming, but according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, MS is the most common disabling neurological disease of young adults.
In the United States alone, every week an estimated 200 new cases are diagnosed. The disease is twice as common in women as in men, and people of Northern European descent are at the highest risk.
The rates of these conditions were actually lower among those who were vaccinated. Multiple sclerosis occurred in 6 of every 100,000 vaccinated people per year, compared to 21.5 of every 100,000 unvaccinated people per year.
Similarly, other demyelinating diseases occurred in 7.5 of every 100,000 vaccinated people per year, compared to 16 for every 100,000 unvaccinated people per year.
The research team concluded that the HPV vaccine does not increase the risk for MS or similar demyelinating diseases.
According to HealthDay News, the team believes that, given the size of the study population and the random use of the Danish and Swedish nationwide registry data, it's likely that the findings are applicable to women in other countries.
Dallas, Mary Elizabeth. "Study: HPV Vaccine Doesn't Increase Risk for Multiple Sclerosis." Consumer HealthDay. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.
Dovey, Dana. "HPV Vaccine Is Not Associated With A Greater MS Risk: Study." Medical Daily. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.
"HPV Vaccination Not Associated with Increased Risk of Multiple Sclerosis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.
Haelle, Tara. "Gardasil HPV Vaccine Not Linked To Multiple Sclerosis Or Related Diseases." Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.
Reviewed January 22, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
Keywords: multiple sclerosis, HPV vaccine, Danish and Swedish nationwide registers, study group, other demyelinating diseases