Maybe the numbers aren’t statistically significant enough, and with no long-term data we can’t really assess the risk properly. But in one study of 11,813 girls receiving the Gardasil vaccine, 2 developed rheumatoid arthritis, 5 developed arthritis, 1 developed reactive arthritis, and 1 developed juvenile arthritis.
In the control group of similarly-aged young girls, all of whom received placebo shots also containing aluminum, 1 recipient developed lupus and 2 developed arthritis.
Merck has been widely criticized for its use of a placebo containing the same adjuvant as the vaccine instead of a placebo containing a non-reactive saline. Such a practice can mask adverse reactions—although in this case a 3-fold increased risk of auto-immune disease nevertheless became apparent—and aluminum has been associated with nerve cell death.
Multiple cases of the autoimmune disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome arising after vaccination with Gardasil have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (it is estimated that less than 10 percent of adverse events are actually reported to VAERS). The CDC, however, has concluded that at least so far there is no evidence that Gardasil increases the risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Heads also swiveled last year over the story of Jenny, a young girl who developed a mystery
case of ALS, motor-neuron disease, after vaccination with Gardasil. Sadly, she was far from the only headline-grabbing "was-it-Gardasil" story.
Incidence of autoimmune disease in general is rising. “Autoimmune disease is a multimillion dollar market set to increase as world prevalence rates rise and the population lives longer,” reported BioPortfolio, rather gleefully.
Roughly eight percent, predominantly women, of people in the US currently suffer various autoimmune diseases that, according to the Lancet, “arise in genetically predisposed individuals but require an environmental trigger.”
Women considering the Gardasil vaccine might want to take hereditary factors into account first.
‘As examples, Dr. Harper (Dr. Diane Harper, who was involved in Gardasil’s clinical trials) mentioned family history of motor neuron disease or autoimmune diseases, which could affect how the person reacts to the vaccine,’ wrote medical journalist Zosia Chustecka. ‘She illustrated this point by saying: "Salt does not usually kill anybody, but for a person with congestive heart failure, it could lead to fatal pulmonary edema, so you could say that salt caused their death, as it was the last straw that broke the camel's back."’
That seems like a fairly balanced approach to does-it-doesn't-it-cause-auto-immune-disease questions. If you really want to protect against the strains of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancers, and you’re not willing to count on regular Pap smears to protect you, take a look at your family history before undergoing Gardasil’s three shots. Check for incidence of MS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and so on, and then decide.
What do you think? Could Gardasil be a trigger for auto-immune diseases? Does autoimmune disease count as a side-effect of a vaccine if it was triggered by the vaccine rather than caused by it; or if it appears outside the time-frame considered by the CDC? Should we worry about the combined effect of the ever-increasing number of recommended or mandatory vaccines?