The Overachieving STD
HPV Also Linked to Cardiovascular Disease
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) may spell more than just trouble for your genitals and cervix—it could mean problems for your heart as well. A recent study revealed a correlation between risk for cardiovascular disease in females, the number one cause of death among women, and strains of HPV that cause cancer. It’s really nice of this virus to be so well rounded.
According to Dr. Ken Fujise, the lead author of the study, “Nearly 20 percent of individuals with CVD (cardiovascular disease) do not show any risk factors, indicating that other ‘nontraditional’ causes may be involved in the development of the disease. HPV appears to be one such factor among women.”
The researchers surveyed women ages 20 to 59, and included women without HPV and women who had either non-cancer-causing or cancer-causing strains of HPV. Researchers found that there was a strong association between cardiovascular disease and cancer-causing strains of HPV. They speculate that this may be due to HPV’s role in inactivating tumor suppressor genes (this is the same process by which HPV causes cancer). Even after controlling the groups for other medical conditions as well as health and sexual behaviors, the correlation remained between cancer-causing strains of HPV and cardiovascular disease.
The researchers, however, did not find a correlation between HPV and various other metabolic risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as blood pressure, HDL cholesterol levels, or diabetes. If there were a bright side to HPV (and there isn’t), maybe this would be it.
Research into HPV as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease is particularly important, as heart disease is the number one cause of mortality in women.
Dr. Fujise explains some of the other impacts of these new findings: "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."
While HPV doesn’t quite have the cache of, say, Herpes, it shouldn’t be ignored as a contender for scariest STD to have. Almost makes you want to use protection even if you’re married, right?
Source: University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (2011). HPV linked to cardiovascular disease in women. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2011/10/111024164704.htm
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