What Causes Cervical Cancer?

Cervical Cancer is a Hot Button Topic Right Now

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Based on recent comments to my Blog, I counted the number of entries I had posted concerning cervical cancer; thus far, 97 Inconvenient Woman Blogs have dealt with some aspect of this disease.

The sources for these articles are varied. I have taken information concerning cervical cancer from the Centers for Disease Control, Cancer Prevention and Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Women’s Health (http://www.womenshealth.gov), the American Cancer Society, Cancer Research Foundation of America, American Society of Clinical Oncology, National Cancer Institute, WebMD, WrongDiagnosis.com, New England Journal Of Medicine, JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, transcripts from the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) including articles and OPED pieces written by  health care professionals, medical journalists, Pharma Industry pundits, critics and true believers.

I have always considered IconicWoman.com and my Blog, An Inconvenient Woman as an aggregator of women’s health information and issues. The Iconic Woman Project was initiated to disseminate health-related information that effects women and girls not regularly reported or analyzed by the mainstream press. My goal is to identify information of interest, poses questions and provide source documentation for my readers to pursue your own research and the resources to help you take action.

The Inconvenient Woman article archive offers transformative, educational information to improve your relationship with your body and yourself; and provides articles that will help readers expand your current perspective, and encourage you to take a more proactive stance concerning your health. The purpose of Iconic Woman is to Activate more Inconvenient Women. Women who ask questions, demand answers, verify answers with an independent source, make informed decisions and pro-actively participate in their personal health and well-being. Education and the willingness to ask questions and demand answers is a start. It is imperative that women be proactive in all aspects of our wellness.

The following description  of  “What Causes Cervical Canceris reprinted with permission from Health Information Publications.

What Causes Cervical Cancer?

We don’t know exactly what causes cervical cancer, but certain risk factors are believed to have an effect. Medical history and lifestyle – especially sexual habits – play a role in a woman’s chances of developing cervical cancer.

The most significant risk factors are:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Sexual history

Various other risk factors have also been identified.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that can infect:

  • The genital tract
  • The external genitals
  • The area around the anus

HPV has nothing to do with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. There are 46 genetic types of HPV, but not all are dangerous. Only certain types of HPV, which can be transmitted from one person to another during sexual contact, increase the risk of cell dysplasia (abnormal cell growth) and/or progression to cervical cancer.

The HPV types that produce genital warts (lesions that are raised and bumpy, or flat and almost impossible to see) are different from those that cause cervical cancer. However, women who have a history of genital warts have almost twice the risk of an abnormal Pap smear as other women.

Nice To Know:

Hybrid Capture Test

This test, approved by the FDA in 1999, is able to detect 14 types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that can infect the cervix   The narrow, lower end of the uterus (womb).. It uses chemoluminescence (transfer of chemical energy into light) techniques to accurately determine the presence or absence of HPV viruses of low risk or medium-high risk for cervical cancer.

Sexual History

A woman has a higher-than-average risk of developing cervical if she:

  • Has had multiple sexual partners
  • Began having sexual relations before the age of 18
  • Has a partner who has had sexual contact with a woman with cervical cancer

Other Risk Factors

It is probable that other factors contribute to cervical cancer, such as:

  • Poverty. Women who are poor may not have access to medical services that detect and treat precancerous   Having the potential to become malignant (cancerous). cervical conditions. When such women develop cervical cancer, the disease usually remains undiagnosed and untreated until it has spread to other parts of the body. Women who are poor are often undernourished, and poor nutrition can also increase cervical cancer risk.
  • Pap test   The Papanicolau test; a test that detects abnormalities in the cells of the female genital tract. The test is performed by a health care provider, who uses a small brush or swab to brush along the cervix in order to obtain a sample of cells, which are then studied under a microscope. history. Not having regular Pap tests increases the chance of unrecognized cervical cancer. Between 60% and 80% of women with newly diagnosed cervical cancer have not had a Pap test in at least five years.
  • Tobacco use. Women who smoke are about twice as likely to develop cervical cancer as women who do not. The more a woman smokes – and the longer she has been smoking – the greater the risk.
  • Eating habits. A diet that doesn’t include ample amounts of fruits and vegetables can increase a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer.
  • Weakened immune system. A woman whose immune system is weakened has a higher-than-average risk of developing cervical lesions that can become cancerous. This includes women who are HIV-positive (infected with the virus that causes AIDS). It also includes women who have received organ transplants and must take drugs to suppress the immune system so that the body won’t reject the new organ.For more detailed information about AIDS, go to AIDS And Women.

  • Hormonal medications. Some experts suggest that hormones in oral contraceptives (birth control pills) can make women more susceptible to Human papillomavirus (HPV). At least one study has indicated that taking birth control pills significantly increases a woman’s risk of developing HPV-related genital warts. Other research suggests that using oral contraceptives for five years or longer slightly elevates a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer, especially if she began taking the Pill before the age of 25.
  • Diethylstilberstrol (DES). A rare type of cervical cancer has been diagnosed in a small number of women whose mothers took diethylstilbestrol (DES), a medicine that was once used to prevent miscarriage.
  • Douching. Because douching may destroy natural antiviral agents normally present in the vagina   The passage that connects the female reproductive organs to the outside., women who douche every week are more apt to develop cervical cancer than women who do not.
  • Chemical exposure. Women who work on farms or in the manufacturing industry may be exposed to chemicals that can increase their risk of cervical cancer.

Women with a weakened immune system due to the virus that causes AIDS are more likely to develop cervical cancer:

  • Cervical cancer is very common in women who are positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • Cervical cancer is sometimes the disease that first suggests a diagnosis of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • HIV can compound the effects of Human papillomavirus (HPV), causing cervical changes to progress more rapidly into cervical cancer than they otherwise might.

Reprinted with permission from Health Information Publication. All Text and images in this post are protected by Copyright © 2002-2005 Health Information Publications. The information provided on this Web site has been developed exclusively by and for Health Information Publications and ehealthMD and may not be copied without written permission. The information provided is for general information only and is not intended to replace the advice of your health-care provider. This is original material developed by Health Information Publications, Copyright © 1990-2005

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Author: H. Sandra Chevalier-Batik

I started the Inconvenient Woman Blog in 2007, and am the product of a long line of inconvenient women. The matriarchal line is French-Canadian, Roman Catholic, with a very feisty Irish great-grandmother thrown in for sheer bloody mindedness. I am a research analyst and author who has made her living studying technical data, and developing articles, training materials, books and web content. Tracking through statistical data, and oblique cross-references to find the relevant connections that identifies a problem, or explains a path of action, is my passion. I love clearly delineating the magic questions of knowledge: Who, What, Why, When, Where and for How Much, Paid to Whom. My life lessons: listen carefully, question with boldness, and personally verify the answers. I look at America through the appreciative eyes of an immigrant, and an amateur historian; the popular and political culture is a ceaseless fascination. I have no impressive initials after my name. I’m merely an observer and a chronicler, an inconvenient woman who asks questions, and sometimes encourages others to look at things differently.