September 19, 2014

Alcohol ups danger of HPV

The sexually transmitted disease human papillomavirus will be contracted by at least half of all sexually active people during their lifetime, but many have no clue they are infected, are asymptomatic, and their infections will disappear within two years.

In some cases, however, the infection lingers in what’s called “persistent HPV,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  

Yahoo Health reported that a new study published in the journal Epidemiology & Infection suggests that women who drink alcohol may have an increased risk of persistent HPV.

When the National Cancer Center, Korea, scientists tested 9,230 women for HPV and asked them about their alcohol intake, they found that current drinkers were nearly three times more likely than non-drinkers to test positive for HPV at the beginning of the study, and then again at a two-year follow-up.

Women who’d been drinking for five or more years also faced a 2.3 times higher risk of persistent HPV than those who started drinking less than five years prior.

“There are HPV strains that never cause genital warts, but have the potential for causing cervical abnormalities and can lead to cervical cancer,” Greg Juckett, M.D., a professor of family medicine at West Virginia University, told Yahoo Health.   “It’s these types — types 16 and 18 — that we’re especially concerned about.”

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