Spin it the way your politics tell you to.
The subject here is Gardasil, an HPV vaccine by Merck that needs to be given to women years before starting sexual activity to be effective.
A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association calls the science behind Gardasil sound, but notes it does not protect against all HPV viruses that might cause cancer, and that it's tough to do a study linking such a vaccine to cancer rates 20-40 years later.
JAMA then offers two studies, one covering the marketing of the vaccine, ethically questionable due to close relations between medical societies and Merck, the vaccine maker, and another covering side effects. The second study is inconclusive, noting that most side effects reported so far are "not serious" but more rigorous study is needed.
Merck, of course, put out an all-clear news release. Some states, like Virginia, are pushing the vaccine for girls as young as 12. Merck is also rolling out a big back to school marketing campaign for the vaccine.
But what if you want to spin the same facts the other way? What if it's in your business interests to keep up the scare or your politics leans to not wanting girls' lady parts protected against cancer for fear it might lead to teh sex.
No problem. "CDC Report Stirs Controversy for Merck's Gardasil Vaccine," thunders ABC News, followed by an anecdotal lead of a mother who is convinced the vaccine killed her 21 year old. (Note that it's not recommended for women who have begun having sexual relations.)
Or you can play the false equivalence game, emphasizing any risks or uncertainty in the JAMA articles.
Additional questions on Gardasil, writes The Wall Street Journal. The vaccine still faces additional questions, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer. Benefits despite some risks, writes The New York Times.
HPV vaccine safe but doctors still wary, writes Time. Vaccine may be going to the wrong women, writes USA Today, noting that upper class girls are getting it but lower class girls at greater risk are not.
Want a real political spin? Here's a good one. "Gardasil controversy puts real moms vs. actor moms," from an outfit called Flesh and Stone. Who are you going to believe, Madison Avenue science or real moms' imagined fears?
The mothers of at-risk girls aren't going to be convinced by what the radio is putting out. Should your daughters get the HPV vaccine, asks KPBS. (It's the transcript of a call-in show and the answer is a definite maybe.)
In fact the science is pretty clear.
There are side-effects and risk with any vaccine, and those with Gardasil are within the normal range. It targets the most-likely sources of HPV infection and is most effective if taken years before starting sex. Coordinating marketing is not a problem if the medical society agrees with the message.
But since we're talking girls and sex politics is going to win out. As a result a lot of women are going to die decades from now because their parents demanded absolute certainty and science does not give those kinds of answers.