Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

Medical News
Herpes May Raise Cervical Cancer Risk, Study Finds

November 8, 2002

Herpes simplex-2, the virus that causes genital herpes, may act as an accomplice to another virus known to cause cervical cancer, making a woman even more susceptible to cancer, according to a new report. The researchers reported their findings in the article "Herpes Simplex Virus-2 as a Human Papillomavirus Cofactor in the Etiology of Invasive Cervical Cancer" in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2002;94:1604-1613).

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the major cause of cervical cancer, which killed an estimated 4,400 women in the United States last year. Scientists have long suspected that other STDs could add to the risk. HSV-2 was a prime suspect, but studies had not come to any clear conclusion.

Jennifer Smith of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and colleagues around the world looked at specimens from more than 1,200 cervical cancer patients in several countries and compared them to samples from 1,100 other women of similar ages and circumstances. They analyzed their blood for evidence of HSV-2, HSV-1 (which causes cold sores), and chlamydia. They found 44 percent of the women with cancer had genital herpes as opposed to 25 percent of women without cancer. "HSV-2 infection may act in conjunction with HPV infection to increase the risk of invasive cervical carcinoma," they wrote.

However, Smith's IARC team found that when herpes infection was taken into account, a woman's sexual history, or that of her partner, was not such a big factor. Women who have sex more often or who start sexual activity earlier in life are more likely to have STDs, and this may account for the higher risk, the researchers said. Herpes can inflame the cervix, and the virus is also known to cause genetic changes in cells that could lead to cancer, Smith's team noted. But HPV is still by far the major cause of cancer. The researchers found DNA from HPV in more than 90 percent of the cancer patients.

Back to other CDC news for November 8, 2002

Previous Updates

Excerpted from:
Reuters
11.05.02; Maggie Smith




This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:
http://www.thebody.com/content/art18568.html

General Disclaimer: TheBody.com is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through TheBody.com should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.