(TeleManagement) Women who are unable to cope with daily stress may be more prone to develop cervical cancer as compared to their relaxed counterparts, researchers from the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia have suggested.
Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted virus. The subtype HPV16 is known to play a vital role in the development of the cancer, which is one of the most common cancers in women of child-bearing age.
However most women are able to battle successfully against the HPV virus thus avoiding the development of cancer. The present study looked at reasons why some women who went on to develop cervical cancer were unable to defending themselves against HPV.
Some 78 women participated in this small study and answered questions on the amount of stress they had on a daily basis. Researchers also asked the women to reveal major stressful events like a divorce or death in the family. It must be mentioned that all 78 women had abnormal smear tests.
Thereafter the researchers calculated the ability of the women’s immune systems to battle HPV 16, which is the most common subtype linked to the development of cervical cancer. Around 28 women whose smear tests were normal were chosen as a control group.
The researchers said the immune response to HPV 16 was poorer among women who were stressed everyday as compared to relaxed ones. There was no link between major stressful events and immune response per se.
“Women who report feeling more stressed could be at greater risk of developing cervical cancer because their immune system can’t fight off one of the most common viruses that cause it,” researchers said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 6.2 million Americans become infected with genital HPV each year and that over half of all sexually active men and women become infected at some time in their lives. An estimated 20 million people are currently infected with HPV.
Use of Pap smears on a large scale has reduced the mortality from cervical cancer because of early detection.
However the above study finds that relaxed women may be able to better fight the HPV 16 virus responsible for cervical cancer. It is just one more reason to unwind!