Risk factors for cervical cancer

Main cause and risk factor: HPV infection

02in; margin-bottom: 0.02in;" align="JUSTIFY">HPV is a group of over 100 different types of viruses that are sexually transmitted and can cause skin, genital, mouth, throat infections. Some of them cause genital warts, which are abnormal tissue growths, often in cauliflower shape.

There are two main types of HPV viruses: low-risk and high-risk. The body is normally capable of fighting HPV viruses on its own, but when this does not happen, the infection becomes chronic and it can lead to cervical cancer.

The infection does not manifest itself immediately, and the virus can be passed to another person through skin contact with an infected area.



Smokers have a doubled risk of developing cervical cancers. Cigarettes contain certain chemicals that cause cancer. They are absorbed through the lungs and get into the blood. Also, smoking weakens the immune system, so it cannot fight HPV infections as well.

Women who smoke are about twice as likely as non-smokers to get cervical cancer.

Diseases of the immune system

Women who are HIV positive have a weakened immune system, so are more prone to infections, HPV being one of them. There is an increased risk of cervical cancer among AIDS patients. Also, in this case, the cancer would spread more rapidly, as there are far less fewer antibodies that fight the infectious cells.

Also, people who suffer from autoimmune diseases (or have received an organ transplant) and are under a treatment that represses their immune systems are more predisposed to HPV infections.




Chlamydia infection

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infectious bacteria, that affects the reproductive organs. Such an infection can cause pelvic inflammation and pain or have no symptoms at all. It can also cause infertility.


A low consumption of vegetal fiber (fruits and vegetables) as well as being overweight increases the risk of developing cervical cancer.


Other risk factors include a long time intake of oral contraceptives. Studies have shown cervical cancer appears more often in women who have taken birth control pills longer than five years. Another risk factor is having three or more full-term pregnancies. Although the direct link is yet unknown for sure, it is assumed that a woman’s immune system might be weakened after three deliveries and, thus, more predisposed to infections such as HPV. The latter risk is even higher if the mother is less than 17 years of age when she had her first baby.

Also, a risk factor can be linked to a social component: wealth and education level. Women who come from poor environment and did not have access to proper education may not know or afford to take the Pap test, that indicates the presence of HPV virus.

Also, as in other types of cancer, the risk of getting cervical cancer increases significantly if a close member of the family has had it.

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