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HPV Linked To Heart Problems In Women

Women infected with cancer-causing strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) appear also to be at increased for cardiovascular diseases and stroke, even in the absence of other more conventional risk factors, according to new research published in the 1 November issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Lead author Dr Ken Fujise, Director, Division of Cardiology at University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston, told the press that nearly 20% of people who develop cardiovascular disease show none of the traditional risk factors normally associated with it, suggesting there are some “non-traditional” risk factors.

According to Fujise


HPV appears to be one such factor among women

This has important clinical implications. First, the HPV vaccine may also help prevent heart disease. Second, physicians should monitor patients with cancer-associated HPV to prevent heart attack and stroke, as well as HPV patients already diagnosed with CVD to avoid future cardiovascular events.

The study is thought to be the first of its kind to examine the link between cardiovascular disease and HPV, one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the US.

In their study, Fujise and co-author Hsu-Ko Kuo, an internist at UTMB, looked at records from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). These included a subset of data from nearly 2,500 women aged 20-59 who took their own vaginal swabs that were then later genotyped to see if they contained HPV DNA.

Looking at this data subset, Fujise and Kuo found that 44.6% (1,141 samples) had tested positive for HPV with 23.2% (573) showing they had cancer-causing strains.

Then, by adding data from other female survey participants, they compared results from women with cancer-causing HPV with women with other types of HPV and also women who had not tested positive for HPV at all.

The data included questionnaire responses about cardiovascular disease history, blood pressure and high blood pressure, BMI, blood glucose, blood fats, cholesterol, diabetes and other conditions. They also had available the usual demographic and clinical information such as age, race, smoking status and alcohol intake.

Fujise and Kuo found that cancer-causing HPV types were strongly linked to cardiovascular disease, but they didn’t see a link between HPV and other metabolic risks.

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