S. Korea curbs U.S. beef sales after confirmation of mad cow disease – CNN.com

Maybe it’s a sign from above that we should all just stop eating beef.  For what it’s worth, eating beef is also associated with higher rates of several cancers including pancreatic and breast cancer, and many other of the reproductive cancers.  Eating hamburger also may involve eating pink slime.  So all in all, I’d say it’s been a bad year for beef, and perhaps it will go on to be a bad decade for beef.  Those of us hoping to take steps to improve our health can only hope.  From CNN.com:  S. Korea curbs U.S. beef sales after confirmation of mad cow disease.

An Effective Vaccine

There are two potential benefits to vaccine. One is preventive. You get the vaccine, you don’t worry about exposure to the disease. You don’t have to lie awake at night, fearing your children have been exposed to smallpox.

As far as traditional and proven, vaccines are one of the oldest tools of modern medicine. In 1796 Dr. Edward Jenner published his research on smallpox prevention.

Noting the common observation that milkmaids did not generally get smallpox, Jenner theorized that the pus in the blisters which milkmaids received from cowpox (a disease similar to smallpox, but much less virulent) protected the milkmaids from smallpox. He may have had the advantage of hearing stories of Benjamin Jesty and others who deliberately arranged cowpox infection of their families, and then noticed a reduced smallpox risk in those families.

It took almost 200 years for this benefit to go global, but people travel, word gets around, and what works, works…

In 1980, the World Health Organization declared smallpox an eradicated disease. This was the result of coordinated public health efforts by many people, but vaccination was an essential component. And although it was declared eradicated, some samples still remain in laboratories in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States, and State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR in Koltsovo, Novosibirsk Oblast, Russia.

The routine smallpox vaccination, of which you might bear a single pockmark if you are of age, was discontinued years ago. But after 9/11, the CDC pulled some ancient vaccine from the freezers. Knowing that virus stockpiles still existed, perhaps in places unknown, they feared the potential of smallpox as a bioweapon. They urged the vaccine on health care workers. Some who accepted got sick, with heart disease. Smallpox never materialized, and it sorted out that the risk outweighed the benefit. It would actually be a very smart move to mix up a new and improved batch of smallpox vaccine, just in case. Let’s call it Defense, since the Public Health is on the back burner.

Okay, just an opinion. Anyway, the possibility of a vaccine that could activate the immune system to attack a disease already in progress is very exciting. Imagine a scary diagnosis–but your own body can repair the damage, given the right help at the right time…

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) — A vaccine that targets human papillomavirus (HPV) is able to stop precancerous lesions in the vulva from progressing into full-blown malignancies, Dutch researchers report.
Two other vaccines — Gardasil and Cervarix — have been approved for young women to prevent infection with HPV, which is also thought to spur precancerous lesions in the cervix and cause 70 percent of cervical cancers.
But the vaccine used in this study, published in the Nov. 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, is not the same as the two existing vaccines.
“This provides a therapeutic effect to a lesion that’s already there,” explained Dr. Eugene P. Toy, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the division of gynecologic oncology at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

When I was a callow nursing student, I was assigned to care for a woman who had vulvar cancer. She was older, reserved, stoic. Whatever her grief was, she kept it to herself. I was just horrified that such a thing could happen to someone.

So is cancer not only preventable, but even treatable, with a vaccine? That would be good news. The most promising tool of medicine is the human immune system. Our immune system protects us from innumerable hazards as we go about our lives oblivious. Learning to work with the immune system will open better ways to fight disease and save much suffering.