Cervical cancer and HPV infection are more likely to risk the health of stressed women, studies show.

Cervical cancer and HPV infection are more likely to risk the health of stressed women, studies show.

Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia examined 74 women diagnosed with human papillomavirus (HPV). Women were tested for immune response to HPV 16 – a strain of infection that is mainly responsible for cervical cancer. All women were asked to fill a ‘stress questioner’ about their emotional state. It included stress factors, such as job loss, divorce, family member death.

Study found 55% link between stress and immune response to HPV. This doesn’t necessarily mean that stressed women will develop cervical cancer. However, HPV infected women should avid stress and have healthier habits.

“There is data that stress can put the immune system at a disadvantage in dealing with viral infections. Even daily hassles like commuting in bad traffic can impact how the body functions,” said Dr. Charles Raison, clinical director of Emory University’s Mind-Body Program. “If a person with HPV is feeling stressed, it is important to do something positive to reduce the stress load. Exercise is known to help, and psychiatric therapy for any depression is important, too.”

According to data one in four sexually active US women aged from 14 to 59 is HPV infected. The disease itself can disappear without even being treated. There is an approved vaccine to prevent disease transmission, but it work only before getting infected. Sexually active women are advised to vaccinated and have regular tests for infection.

Previous studies have already proved link between nutrition and HPV. This research is the first to examine link between physiological and immune systems. It clearly shows association between stress and cervical cancer. However, more research needs to be done to find out the mechanism of the link.


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