Saturday, June 27, 2009

Farewell, Farrah- From Charlie's Angel to our REAL HPV Angel

We all were desperate to have Farrah's hairdo, complete with gorgeous waves and "feathers". Farrah's character- JILL- (yes, I loved that!) was our icon of beauty back then. Which of us would have predicted this stunning actress's final performance would be the real story of her painful struggle and death from a not-s0 glamorous disease- anal cancer.
Ninety percent of anal cancers are thought to be caused by HPV, the human papilloma virus. Smoking is also a significant risk factor, and the highest rate of anal cancers occurs in white females and black males. HPV is transmitted via direct, skin-to-skin contact, often through intercourse. There does not need to be anal penetration to develop HPV infections (warts or cancers) in or around the anus.
The good news is that we now have a vaccine that protects against two strains of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancers. A bonus to the vaccine is that it will help protect against other cancers also linked to HPV such as anal and penile cancers. Would Farrah still be alive and thriving if Gardasil had been available 30 years ago? Possibly. BUT, not if she chose not to get the vaccine.
BOTTOM LINE: I hope Farrah's death and her willingness to share her story despite the awkward nature of the topic and the intense personal strain will motivate her fans to vaccinate their children against HPV. In that way, Farrah Fawcett will become a REAL angel for another generation.

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