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Ten Cervical Cancer Risk Factors You May Not Know

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Scientists also believe that the immune system is important in destroying cancer cells and slowing their growth and spread, so women infected with HIV have a higher-than-normal risk of a cervical pre-cancer developing into invasive cancer, and the cancer may develop at a faster rate than in women without HIV.

  • Chlamydia infection: Chlamydia is a relatively common kind of bacteria spread by sexual contact that can infect the reproductive system. Chlamydia infection can cause pelvic inflammation, leading to infertility. Some studies have seen a higher risk of cervical cancer in women whose blood test results show signs of past or current chlamydia infection compared with women with normal test results. Since chlamydia often causes no symptoms in women, a woman may not know that she is infected at all unless she is tested for the infection when she gets her annual pelvic exam.
  • Diet: Women with diets low in fruits and vegetables may be at increased risk for cervical cancer. Overweight and obese women are more likely to develop adenocarcinoma (glandular cancer) of the cervix.
  • Oral contraceptives (birth control pills): Credible evidence suggests that taking oral contraceptives for a long time increases the risk of cancer of the cervix. Research suggests that the risk of cervical cancer goes up the longer a woman takes oral contraceptives but the risk goes back down again after oral contraceptives are stopped.

    In a 2007 study, the risk of cervical cancer was doubled in women who took birth control pills longer than 5 years, but the risk returned to normal 10 years after dosing ended. Experts suggest women discuss with their health care provider if the benefits of birth control pills outweigh potential risk. A woman with multiple sexual partners should use condoms to lower her risk of sexually transmitted infections no matter what other form of contraception she uses.

  • Add a Comment2 Comments

    Thanks for your comment Pat. Being screened and knowing the risk factors are good first steps to lowering your cancer risk. Early detection is key to successful treatment. It will be a good day when no woman has to endure this illness.

    January 21, 2010 - 8:31am
    HERWriter Guide

    Valuable information, Lynette, thanks! This also reinforces the need to be aware of our individual risk factors and to get regular tests as needed, such as pap tests, to detect cancers that are treatable when found in the early stages.

    January 20, 2010 - 5:53pm
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    We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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