UK Cannot Ignore These Cancer Figures: Men Need the HPV Vaccine

While anal cancer rates have risen dramatically in the past four decades, the UK government is still dithering on whether to give young men a vaccine that could protect them.

New figures published this month by the leading UK cancer charity Cancer Research UK show that anal cancer rates in Britain have rocketed since the mid 70s. In total, anal cancer incidents have gone up 374% for women, and 202% for men. To put that in a more quantifiable way, just o.4 in every 100,000 people were known to develop anal cancer in the mid 70s. That figure is now at 1.5 out of every 100,000 today. The death rate also appears to have quadrupled, with roughly six people dying every week from anal cancer in the UK.

Anal cancer is a relatively uncommon disease, so even with this scary sounding rise, it’s important to put that in context. What’s more, the rise in the rates of anal cancer diagnoses may be at least partially attributed to better screening practices. It’s still difficult to catch anal cancer early on, partially due to the stigma attached to that region of the body and also the fact that the initial symptoms aren’t always obvious, but doctors are catching the disease and far earlier than before.

However, that doesn’t account for such a big increase — so what does? Smoking seems to increase the risk of several cancers, including anal cancer. Quitting should therefore be a priority. Experts also say they think one sexually transmitted disease might be to blame: the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Just as HPV transmission is a known risk factor for women developing cervical cancer, it appears that HPV could be linked to up to 90% of anal cancer cases, and while condoms can help to prevent transmission, they are not able to give us complete protection. The HPV vaccine, therefore, is a vital tool in stopping anal cancer in its tracks.

“Anal cancer is closely linked to HPV, and changes in sexual attitudes mean people are increasingly exposed to the virus. We’re not suggesting people take a vow of celibacy, but HPV vaccination, using a condom and being a non-smoker can all help to reduce the risk,” Jessica Kirby, senior health information manager at Cancer Research UK, is quoted as saying.

The reason why the jump in anal cancer rates appears to affect women more than men is unclear, but women in the UK are at least helped by the fact that teenage girls now routinely receive the HPV vaccine, thus helping to protect them from the virus and decreasing their risk of a number of cancers. Cancer Research UK says that this relatively recent change is likely to impact anal cancer rates among women and help to bring down that figure over the coming decade.

However, despite HPV being a possible risk factor for cancers in men, and particularly for gay men, the British government has so far resisted rolling out the immunization program to teenage boys — even though a number of other nations do provide the immunization, including Australia and the United States, and that a number of major medical bodies have recommended the change.

Currently, Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is considering adjusting the policy to cover at least some young men. This isn’t just good for boys (or girls) who receive the immunization. As we’ve detailed before here at Care2, immunization creates herd immunity. This means that, for those people who for whatever reason cannot be vaccinated, they are protected by the majority of other people being vaccinated and are therefore far less likely to catch the virus.

In addition to this, the fact that men who have sex with men (MSM) are at higher risk of various cancers like anal, throat and penile cancer, and that they have all been linked to HPV, demonstrates that the cost of the immunization could help to pay for itself by the long-term reduction in health care costs for treating those cancers. Predictive models based on cervical cancer at least say that these campaigns can be successful, so the risk on that investment can be absorbed.

On balance, there appears to be no evidence-based reason to deny men what could be a life-saving vaccine, and every reason to move forward on it. It’s only politics, then, that stands in the way.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.


Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm2 years ago

Mercola is a proven quack……..using him as a source is absolutely laughable.

Anita Robertson
Anita Robertson2 years ago

Too many of these vaccines are money-making scams promoted by Big Pharma. Lies the government allows big business to tell the citizens. I for one am not buying it.

Those of you who think that conspiracy believers are nuts have been brainwashed by your keepers. Very sad, sheeple.

Elizabeth F.
Elizabeth F.2 years ago


Carole R.
Carole R.2 years ago

Thanks for the post.

Natasha Salgado
natasha salgado2 years ago


Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm2 years ago

What is it that makes people so incredibly susceptible to every conspiracy theory in the book LOLOLOL. Its like a terminal disease that is spreading incredibly fast. People read shit on the internet and assume its allll truuuueeeee

Nikolas K.
Nikolas K.2 years ago

Ask yourself why an organisation who relies on a constand feed of donations such as the organisation who is promoted by this article would spread lies like its doing . Yes, you enlightened ones you can see they need this fear mongering to ensure your dollars flow into them to produce the magical cure just around the corner.

Nikolas K.
Nikolas K.2 years ago

In the UK they have a national heath scheme so it benefits the medical mafia to convince people to queue up for as many products as possible. which is why people are dying from malpractice in all levels of society. Fortunately many people are surviving in America because they cannot afford to become a customer of the medical mafia. I see many claims about how bad people who promote natural health or expose the ingredients in the madical mafias concoctions called vaccines but those mouthing on never produce evidence that would stand up in a court.

Nikolas K.
Nikolas K.2 years ago

This post is not about health, but fear mongering as vaccines like these just pave the way to create more customers. If you want to see the truth ask your doctor if he accepts personal liability from any harm caused by vaccines and watch him/her cringe in fear. doctors and big Pharma are there to make mega profits not heal their customers which is why we keep getting sick each year as we are being put on a treadmill. Why do you think they get paid even when their treatment fails. I bet if you failed in your job at work you would not be paid. Just think about it instead of riunning of the mouth on a subject you have never researched. calling people names like conspiracy theorist is just how the quacks silence good people who expose their lies. Just like all the brainless who actually believe the fake films of 9/11 and media lies.supporting the lie.