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Risk factors for cervical cancer

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Cervical cancer occurs when the cells of the cervix become cancerous. This happens due to mutation in the cervical cell DNA, which could be the squamous cells or the glandular cells.

Here we explain you the risk factors for cervical cancer:


HPV infection

More than 99% of cervical cancer cases are due to exposure to HPV infection. They are a group of viruses of which HPV 16, 18, 31 and 33 are the high risk types for cervical cancer. The virus is transferred through sexual contact, including oral and anal sex, thereby causing abnormal growth of the cervical cells.


Multiple sexual partners

Chances of having cervical cancer are high when you have multiple sexual partners. This is because you are at greater risk of getting infected with cervical cancer causing HPV virus.


Having sex at very young age

Girls who initiate sex at an early age further increases risk of having cervical cancer.

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Compromised immune system

Having a compromised immune system poses high risk for having cervical cancer. Women with HIV/AIDS and infected with other types of sexually transmitted diseases like Chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhoea are highly vulnerable.


Drugs and pills

Women who had been taking immunosuppressant drugs post organ transplant or for treatment of any other health issue.

Research studies support the fact that women who had been taking oral birth control contraceptives are at higher risk of having cervical cancer.

Studies have also shown that exposure to the drug Diethylstilboestrol (DES) in the womb can also be a risk factor for cervical cancer. It is a hormonal drug that was given to some women a decade ago to prevent miscarriage.


Smoking and cervical cancer

Women who smoke on regular basis have double risk of getting cervical cancer than non smokers. Doctors believe that the nicotine content of tobacco and other carcinogenic substances are capable of mutating the DNA of cervical cells, thereby leading to cancer.


Race, poverty and socio economic conditions

African-American women have the highest death rate from cervical cancer. This is further connected to poverty and lack of education and lacuna in healthcare system. They are either not screened, have no access to medical facility or cannot afford medical expenses. 

Poor socio economic condition further puts women at high risk of cervical cancer.


Pregnancy and age

Although there complete proof that supports multiple pregnancies as risk factor for cervical cancer, still it is taken into consideration. Women who had 3 or more full term pregnancies or girls who had got pregnant below 17 years of age can have cervical cancer at some stage of their life.


Poor diet

Lack of proper diet makes your immune system weak and hence you are vulnerable to infections. If you are not eating enough foods rich in antioxidants (like fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.) and vitamins, then you could be at risk.


Prevention strategy for cervical cancer

Apart from eliminating the risk factors, cervical cancer can be prevented with HPV vaccine, which is given to females between the 9-26 years of age. Talk to your doctor regarding the vaccination process and also about screening tests to proof yourself from cervical cancer.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: March 11, 2014

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