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Smoking increases
risk of cervical cancer

Smoking increases
risk of cervical cancer

Current female cigarette smokers have a 60% greater risk of cervical cancer than women who never smoked, according to a new study. Researchers with the International Collaboration of Epidemiological Studies of Cervical Cancer evaluated data from 23 studies on the effects of smoking on cervical cancer risk. Included in the study were 23,017 women who were initially free of cervical cancer.

The researchers' analysis found a relationship between age of starting smoking and cervical cancer, but not between duration of smoking and cervical cancer risk.

"It is not clear why this association was present," said team member Amy Berrington de Gonzales of Cancer Research U.K. in Oxford, England. "One possible explanation is that duration of smoking was reported less accurately than age at starting smoking, and age at starting smoking is acting as a surrogate for duration of smoking, i.e., earlier age at starting smoking is a marker of longer duration."

Eight of the studies included data on cervical infection with human papillomavirus. HPV has been linked to most cases of cervical cancer. In the eight studies, women who tested positive for HPV had a cervical cancer risk almost double that of women who were not HPV-infected.

The study's results confirm that cigarette smoking is a risk factor for cervical cancer, Berrington said, "as the association was present also in women who were HPV-positive, strongly suggesting that the association is not just due to confounding between sexual behavior and smoking."

Studies have shown lesbians are significantly more likely to smoke than their heterosexual peers and as such are at a higher risk of smoking-related illnesses like lung cancer and emphysema. (Reuters, with additional reporting by The Advocate)

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