Research Links Smoking To Higher HPV Risk

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A new study has linked smoking to a higher risk of HPV (human papilloma virus) infection.

Research has revealed that smoking increases the risk of HPV by three times, making smokers much more likely to develop oral cancer than non-smokers. The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, involved a group of 6,887 people.

Researchers discovered that HPV-16, a strain of the human papilloma virus linked with cancer, was found in 3 times more smokers than non-smokers. The study also confirmed that young men were most likely to be smokers. The findings also indicated that people who were less educated and those who had a high number of sexual partners were more likely to have the HPV-16 strain.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said that he hopes the findings will highlight the risk factors associated with oral cancer and encourage people to give up smoking and practise safe sex. Dr Carter hopes that if people know that smoking is associated with a higher risk of HPV infection, they will be less inclined to smoke, which will decrease the risk of many forms of cancer, including oral cancer.

The researchers analysed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Twenty-eight per cent of participants were current smokers and 63% were non-smokers. HPV-16 was present in 0.6 per cent of non-smokers and former smokers and 2.0 per cent of smokers.

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