HPV Vaccine (Gardasil) Prevents Cervical Cancer (from Prevention magazine, September 2007) The benefits of the HPV vaccine for women under 26 have been all over the news. But the headlines overlooked something important: Gardasil may also be lifesaving for older women, especially those who are divorced or in a nonmonogamous relationship. Younger women were studied first because they're more likely to be exposed to the cancer-causing human papillomavirus, but research is under way on women over age 26. The vaccine targets four of the viral strains most commonly associated with cervical cancer and genital warts and, says Schuchat, "the chance that any woman has been exposed to all four types is tiny. So the vaccine will probably benefit everyone who gets it." Protect yourself: Consider getting the three-shot HPV series if you've been mutually monogamous--or abstinent--but are now dating again. (Think about getting a hepatitis B vaccine, too; that sexually transmitted virus sometimes causes liver cancer.) If you're over age 26, your insurance may not cover the $350 cost of the series, at least until Gardasil is approved for older women or a similar shot, called Cervarix, gets okayed (that vaccine was recently green-lighted in Australia for women up to age 45). However, one or both approvals may happen soon. Note from me: HPV is spread via skin-to-skin contact, and you can catch it through oral sex.