Chicago/ Health & Lifestyle
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Published on May 24, 2024
Health Experts Champion Increased HPV Vaccinations for Males After Promising Research Presented in ChicagoSource: Jan Christian @ www.ambrotosphotography.comGardasil_vaccine_and_box.jpg: Jan Christian @, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Following pivotal research presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago, experts are pushing for increased HPV vaccinations among boys and men—a move that could dramatically reduce the risk of cancer. Though widely known for guarding against cervical cancer in women, the vaccine is now showing significant preventive benefits for males against other forms of the virus-linked disease.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the latest studies indicate HPV shots lead to a lower number of mouth and throat cancers in men—a type of cancer more than twice as prevalent in men than women. The evidence is becoming clearer, with 57 cases of HPV-related cancer recorded in unvaccinated men, as opposed to just 26 among those vaccinated.

"It’s really important that teenagers get exposed to the vaccine before they’re exposed to the virus," Jasmin Tiro of the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center, who was not involved in the research, emphasized the importance of early vaccination, as per the Chicago Sun-Times. A second study, as reported by the same source, revealed vaccination rates for males, though on the rise since 2011, still lag behind females, with only 36% of boys and young men vaccinated in comparison to 49% of their female counterparts.

At the same conference, Dr. Danh Nguyen of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center pointed to encouraging signs of narrowing gender gaps in vaccination rates. However, he stated, "The gap is narrowing between males and females and eventually I would hope that they would meet up," expressing optimism for parity in the future, as detailed by NBC Chicago. "If you are in your 20s or 30s, you can still get the vaccination. Even if you are 45, there is no reason you cannot get vaccinated because we have a population that lives a long time," she urged.

Though previous discussions about HPV vaccines have been marred by stigma due to their association with a sexually transmitted infection, concrete data on the vaccine's impact is changing the conversation. "HPV vaccination is cancer prevention," Dr. Glenn J. Hanna of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Center for Head and Neck Oncology told NBC News. With the vaccinated generation yet to reach the age where head and neck cancers are most commonly diagnosed, experts are eager to witness the full scope of benefits the HPV vaccine will unfurl over the coming decades.