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Stress may be HPV cancer trigger

Chicago Tribune
24 February 2008
HealthDay News

High levels of daily stress could explain why some women infected with malignancy-linked types of human papillomavirus (HPV) develop cervical cancer, a new study suggests.

Scientists at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia tested 74 women, all diagnosed with cervical dysplasia (precancerous cervical lesions), for an immune response to HPV 16, one of the strains of human papillomavirus thought to be a major cause of cervical cancer. The women also completed a questionnaire that assessed stressful life events experienced during the previous six months.

“We observed that stress was associated with deficits in immune response to HPV 16,” said Carolyn Y. Fang, the study’s lead investigator.

Most HPV infections in healthy women disappear over time without progressing to precancerous lesions or cancer. “That means HPV infection alone is not sufficient to cause cervical cancer,” Fang said.

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