In recent decades HPV has been more or less determined to be the cause of cervical cancer, and a vaccine has been developed for it.
What interested me was that HPV was found in various other cancers, including lung cancer.
But this turns out to be just the average. Far higher figures have been found elsewhere:
Smokers History lists a number of studies linking HPV with lung cancer.
Maybe HPV was the real cause of most cancers? Something I read today in a smoker’s blog brought this back to mind.
For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, smokers are more susceptible to infection with human papilloma virus, a large family of viruses that can cause warts—including genital warts.
While genital warts are caused by sexually transmitted types of HPV, smoking is also a risk factor. Even taking the number of sex partners into account, women who smoke are nearly four times as likely to have genital warts as nonsmokers, according to one study.
I usually disregard these sorts of stories, according to which smoking causes every disease known to man. But this fitted in quite well with the HPV cancer hypothesis. It seemed entirely plausible, for once, that smoking reduced resistance to some viral infections (while maybe increasing resistance to others). It might also be that people who ate potatoes and tomatoes and peppers, which contain nicotine, might also have a slightly lower resistance.
The modified HPV hypothesis would then be that HPV causes cancer, and that smokers (and perhaps a number of other categories of people) have less resistance to HPV than other people. Hence smokers get these sorts of cancers more frequently. It’s not that smoking causes cancer, but that smoking lowers resistance to the HPV infection that actually does cause cancer. The pandemic of lung cancer (and other sorts of cancer) is due to sexually-transmitted HPV multiplying in unprotected human populations. Smokers happen to be more prone to become infected. Perhaps partly because they probably have more sexual partners than non-smokers.
If so, most cancers are diseases much like any other viral or bacterial infections. Like tuberculosis or malaria or ‘flu. And if everybody was vaccinated against HPV, and not just young girls, cancer would be banished like TB.
And one of things that I like about the HPV cancer hypothesis is precisely this: Cancer would becomes a disease like any other, transmitted by infection. There would be an end to the claim that smoking causes lung cancer. It was never a very strong claim. It was simply a statistical association. And correlation is not causation. If it seems these days to be a fact of life that smoking causes lung cancer, it’s largely because a powerful medical establishment has been repeating the claim for the past 60 years, purely on the basis of statistical association. And once this became an unquestionable dogma, it also served to starve lung cancer research of funds.
That amounts to more deaths than from leukaemia, breast and prostate cancer put together.
Yet lung cancer receives just 4% of the national cancer research budget.
Cancer charities say the stigma linked to lung cancer as a “smokers’ disease” means patients do not get the best support and information they need.
With research starved of funds, the dogma of the reigning smoking hypothesis could no longer be questioned, or any alternative hypothesis investigated. Antismoking dogmatism intensified.
This is exactly the same as with the climate science that pins the blame for global warming on human CO2 emissions. Anyone who disagrees is a “flat-earther”, and more or less a Holocaust Denier. Alternative hypotheses are starved of money. Dissenters are marginalised.
I feel sure that some sort of similar hypothesis will eventually oust the reigning smoking hypothesis. And it will see real science ousting pseudoscience. The HPV hypothesis would explain why the incidence of lung cancer just kept on rising, however many people gave up smoking, because smoking wasn’t what was causing the cancer epidemic. The best that could ever have resulted from people giving up smoking was that there were fewer susceptible people. Stopping people smoking as a lung cancer prevention measure was only going to be as effective as stopping people going to West Africa was a malaria prevention measure. It would help a bit. It doesn’t address the root cause.
Quite apart from these considerations, there are other considerations which also powerfully urge the dismissal of the dogma that smoking causes lung cancer. Was it necessary for Jews to disprove Nazi racial science before they could condemn the Nazi war on Jews? No, it wasn’t. That war could be condemned in itself, regardless of the racial pseudoscience underpinning it. The same is true today of the modern War on Smokers. It can be condemned in and of itself as another vile persecution of a minority. It just hasn’t yet become quite as murderous as the Nazi persecution of Jews. But it is already a global War on Smokers in a way that the Nazi War on Jews never was, restricted as it was to Europe. In that sense it is far worse. And the War on Smokers also shares the same origins as the War on Jews. Both emerged in Nazi Germany. And both were driven by crackpot healthist eugenic theories, largely promoted by doctors.