Men who drink more alcohol have a greater risk of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, according to a recent study by Moffitt Cancer Center researchers.
Alcohol is known to inhibit the body’s immune responses, causing increased susceptibility to both bacterial and viral infections, wrote Moffitt in a press release.
Studies show that even moderate amounts of alcohol can adversely affect the immune system.
With this in mind, the researchers wanted to discover if there was any association between drinking patterns and susceptibility to HPV infection, stated ScienceDaily.com.
HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). More than six million Americans are infected with HPV every year. It contributes to a number of different cancers in women, including cervical, vaginal and anal cancer.
Studies also show that HPV can cause penile, anal and oropharyngeal cancer in men, according to Headlines & Global News (HNGN).
Moffitt researchers analyzed potential risk factors for HPV infection in more than 1,300 men from Florida.
The British Medical Journal said these men were enrolled in the U.S. arm of the HPV in Men (HIM) study, an international study tracking the natural history of HPV infection in men.
Researchers used DNA analysis to confirm the presence of HPV. Samples from three genital areas: the corona of glans penis, penile shaft and scrotum were combined to test for HPV.
Participants filled out extensive questionnaires asking about their long-term sexual history and diet in the preceding 12 months. The questionnaires also asked about alcohol, including serving size, frequency and type.
The men underwent a medical examination two weeks before the start of the study, and then every six months afterwards.
Moffitt researchers discovered that the men who consumed the most alcohol – on average more than 9.9 grams per day – had a significantly higher risk of HPV infection. This risk was significant in both current smokers and men who never smoked.
Researchers also noted that the men who drank more alcohol had an increased risk of HPV infection independent of the number of sexual partners they had.