Mar 31, 2007, 1:34 PM
Post #12 of 34
Re: [Bubba] On Preventive Medicine in Mexico
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I am a naturopathic physician who specializes in hepatitis and other liver diseases. I have treated hepatitis patients for about 10 years. The question concerning the hepatitis vaccine is a complicated one and should be researched and thought through before deciding.
As a medical student everyone is offered the opportunity for the hepatitis vaccine since most of us would be treating hepatitis patients. In my class (50 students or so) we all researched the vaccine and to a person turned down the vaccine. We were each willing to "chance" the disease rather than risk the vaccine. Some studies show vaccines actually weaken the immune system, rather than strengthen it-thus making you more vulnerable to disease. Other studies show long term negative effects such as the "Polio-syndrome" that some people in the 1950's who received the polio vaccine are now exhibiting. With the hepatitis vaccine too little is known about this for me to be comfortable with it.
Let's look at hepatitis. The first type is Hepatitis A. This is usually a self-limiting liver disease usually from fecal contaminate foods (from the great unwashed handling our food). Most people who get this are sick for a few weeks and then completely recover without any lasting effects.
Hepatitis B is usually from sexual fluids, or blood. It can be transmitted through sexual contact or needle sticks or blood that gets into cuts, etc. This is a serious disease that the vaccine is supposed to prevent. This type can be cleared from the body or may go into a chronic state and cause long term problems. Some people recover quite nicely from Hep B but become carriers and can pass the disease on. High risk behavior is sex with someone affected or a carrier, blood transfusions, IV drug use, tattoos/piercings, surgery, etc.
Hepatitis C is an emerging epidemic. Most of my hepatitis patients fall into this category. Often has a dormancy period of 20+ years. Can be spread through blood transfusions, tattoos,/piercings, IV drug use, surgery, etc. Sexual contact is a minimal way for contracting this (maybe 1 - 2 %). There is no vaccine for this.
There are other hepatitis's out there Hep D (in junction with Hep B), Hep E, F and maybe G. These are not an issue at this point.
As can be seen, except for Hepatitis A, the others have some risk factor in order to develop these diseases. Due to the nature of the epidemiology of the diseases, my personal feeling is the vaccine is worse than the benefit of prevention, since I do not belong to any of the "risk groups". Remember Hepatitis A, although not pleasant, is usually self limiting with no long lasting damage. Also, the liver is remarkable in its ablility to regenerate damaged cells and recover. By keeping the immune system strong and utilizing proper care of the liver with proper supplements I feel the vaccine is unnecessary.
Of course, everyone must do what they feel is right for them, and if you feel the vaccine is what you need, then I suggest doing some research (google: hepatitis vaccines) and then decide what is the right course for you.
There are hundreds of paths up the mountain,
all leading in the same direction,
so it doesn't matter which path you take.
The only one wasting time is the one
who runs around and around the mountain,
telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.
(This post was edited by drmike on Mar 31, 2007, 2:13 PM)