Cervical cancer is a venereal disease caused by the human papilloma virus called HPV. Nineteen different strains of HPV have been associated with cervical cancer. HPV-16 is the most carcinogenic. As solid cancers grow, they produce angiogenesis factors that increase blood flow to them to supply nutrients and energy. Tobacco contains nicotine, a potent angiogenesis factor. A study from Sweden shows that women who smoke are far more likely to suffer cervical cancer than their non-smoking counterparts (Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, November 2006).

Researchers compared the medical records of 375 women who had cervical cancer to those of 363 women who did not. Pap smears taken an average of nine years before cervical cancer occurred showed which women were infected with HPV- 16. Blood tests showed the number of viruses in their bloodstream. Smokers infected with HPV-16 were 14.4 times more likely to suffer cervical cancer. Smokers with high blood levels of HPV-16 were 27 times more likely to get cervical cancer. Cervical cells undergo a series of changes as they pass from normal toward cancerous, so all pre-menopausal women should get yearly Pap smears. Check with your doctor.

January 15, 2007