Exclusive: The Daily Mail Causes Cancer

April 6, 2009 at 5:40 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Bad Science, Media) (, , , , , )


In March, JQH wrote four posts about the Mail’s reporting of the HPV vaccine, and his subesquent complaints to the Mail and the PCC. Link. I wrote about their coverage here. This afternoon, I spotted a link on the Holford Watch miniblog to a new Daily Mail article headlined “How safe is the cervical cancer jab? Five teenagers reveal their alarming stories”.

Here we go, I thought – they are going to provide five anecdotes about side-effects of the vaccine (some of them relatively minor) and claim that these adverse events mean that the vaccine is dangerous and we should be alarmed about it. Possibly to the extent that we should avoid it. I wish I had been wrong, but it was no surprise to find that my prediction was correct and the Fail were scaremongering. Again.

The Fail seem to want to encourage us to take more note of these adverse events than of the estimated seven hundred lives that will be saved by the vaccination program. Let’s take a quick look at these adverse events.

The first anecdote tells of dizziness, exhaustion, and blackouts. Now, as far as I can tell, blackouts aren’t listed as a known side-effect of the vaccine. Exhaustion doesn’t seem to be listed either. Dizziness may occur in about 4% of those vaccinated. Despite the apparent fact that only one of the reported symptoms is listed as a side-effect of the vaccine, the parent decided that “Carly’s symptoms tallied almost exactly with a list of adverse reactions to Gardasil” and the Fail decided to print this assertion.

The second anecdote lists dizziness, blackouts and headaches as symptoms – but points out that doctors “maintain that she has demonstrated ‘no pathological reaction’ to the jab”. The parent claims that if the symptoms are not due to the vaccine it is “one hell of a coincidence”. Coincidences do happen and, given that the experts claim this is the case, I would be loath to dismiss the idea that it was a coincidence without some kind of evidence that it was not. The Fail have no such qualms.

Anecdote three is a complaint of CFS*. The illness began a week after the vaccine was administered and the parent comments “I know I can’t prove the connection, but I’m as certain as I can be […] It took me a while to make the connection to Cervarix, but once I had it all made sense”. It is hard to see where the certainty comes from, but it does not come from medical experts – the girl’s doctors have not claimed that the vaccine has caused CFS. If the illness began a week after administration and it took a while to make a connection to Cervarix (a connection that no-one else involved in the case has made), why so certain now?

Anecdote four is a complaint of sore throat and numbness in the arm. Doctors have made no connection between the adverse events and vaccination in this case and these side-effects (if they are side-effects of the vaccine) are relatively minor.

Anecdote five involves a girl who now suffers seizures. “Although doctors are at a loss to explain why she has developed what appears to be epilepsy, they are more inclined to believe it is associated with the antidepressant medication she had been taking (with no adverse sideeffects for more than a year) than with the vaccine.”

The Fail also repeat their claim that 1300 of 700,000 girls suffered side-effects due to the vaccine. Firstly, the side-effects reported were mostly minor. Secondly, not all of them could be confidently said to be due to the vaccine. JQH (linked to in my opening para) complained to the Daily Mail about their reporting of these 1300 adverse effects (pointing out, among other things, that of those receiving the vaccine “Over 99.8% reported no adverse symptoms at all”) and he complained also to the PCC. Perhaps the Fail’s writer had this in the back of their mind when referring again to the 1300 reported adverse events, as they report that “Admittedly, that is a tiny proportion of the girls who have upped their protection against a dreadful disease.” [My italics.]


Gardasil side-effects. Gardasil-VAERS-adverse-reactions. [The second link is to Scribd – it might be slow to load.] Links to this Daily Mail story and a more recent one on HPV causing throat cancer are in the comments section.



  1. Rick said,

    Dizziness and blackout one day
    Cervical cancer

    Not a hard choice…

  2. Maddy said,

    Ooo dear I was trying to think of something intelligent to say and then I read Rick’s comment…..works for me too.

    Still as I reminisce, the Daily Mail seems so much more fluffy than the National Inquirer. I’m sure they both work equally well shredded in the compost bin.


  3. JQH said,

    Good post (thanks for the link btw).

  4. Sarah said,

    I would love to know how the Mail decided on unsubstantiated alarmism as their editorial line on Gardasil. That article is appalling, and totally within the rules. I liked the throwaway mention of the yellow card scheme too. Obviously, it was so inaccessible that ringing up the Mail was the only option.

  5. apgaylard said,

    Sigh. Well done on another case of mail vaxploitation comprehensively exposed: hype the risks to sell papers. How those responsible for this cynical manipulation sleep at night escapes me.

  6. jdc325 said,

    Thanks for the comments all.

    Rick – nicely put.

    Maddy – thinking about it, I suppose hamster owners may have use for the Daily Mail too.

    JQH – I was glad to link to you. Excellent series of posts – and I look forward to reading of the PCC’s ultimate response to your complaint.

    Sarah – I guess the Mail knows their audience. The editorial line on Gardasil seems to be based on the prejudices of their readers (a) against young people having sex and (b) against vaccination – and the medical establishment in general.

    apgaylard – I suspect they sleep like babies. [I’m put in mind of the Bill Hicks rant on marketing.]

  7. onethoughtfulwoman said,

    With all new medications there are always concerns about side-effects and risks.
    But we don’t stop giving those medicines- vacinations as one example, becuase of them. if we believe, looking at all the trials and the evidence, that the potential risk is far less than any benefits.
    Are we going to withdraw the contraceptive pill, well known for potential side effects. No, because it saves on many unwanted pregnancies each year.
    Are we going to withdraw vacinations for children?
    No, because it saves many many children from many contagious diseases.
    Continue looking at the side-effects yes. But we have an opportunity and a drug that will save many women from the terrible disease called Cervical cancer.
    Let’s use it!

  8. onethoughtfulwoman said,

    I like your site very much and have added you to my own for future reference.

  9. jdc325 said,

    Thank you for your comments onethoughtfulwoman.

  10. jdc325 said,

    Woah. The Daily Mail has today printed a story about oral sex causing cancer. How does oral sex cause throat cancer? Well, you see it’s all to do with certain strains of the HPV virus. Um, the one that we have a vaccine for. The vaccine that the Daily Mail were scaremongering about just a couple of days prior to this new story on throat cancers.
    Throat cancer story versus Vaccine scare story. Joined-up thinking at the Mail? Now there’s something I never expect to see.


  11. jdc325 said,

    I’ve just left this comment on the throat cancer story:

    Would this be the same virus that we have a vaccine for? The vaccine that the Daily Mail were scaremongering about only a few days ago? You should be ashamed.

    What are the odds it will be published?

    EDIT 10/4/09 8.38pm: according to the Mail’s website “No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts?”


  12. Astro62 said,

    In July last year Judicial Watch, the US public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, released a report based on new documents obtained from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, detailing reports of adverse reactions to the vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV), Gardasil. The adverse reactions include 10 deaths since September, 2007. (The total number of death reports is at least 18 and as many as 20.) The FDA also produced 140 “serious” reports (27 of which were categorized as “life threatening”), 10 spontaneous abortions and six cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome – all since January 2008.

    This vaccine has never been properly tested on 12 & 13 year olds, the main recipient group. Follow the money!

  13. Daily Mail Science Correspondent on Vaccination « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] by Rachel Porter, Paul Sims, and the anonymous (and ubiquitous) Daily Mail Reporter. (See here, here, here, and here for my thoughts on those articles.) The journalist in question is Fiona MacRae. The […]

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