Home Medizin HPV und Tabak: Gefährliche Läsionen

HPV und Tabak: Gefährliche Läsionen

von NFI Redaktion

In Paris, Cancer and Tobacco are a dangerous combination. This saying holds particularly true for cervical cancer, caused by the high-risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Julia Maruani, MD, a gynecologist in Marseille, France, discussed this connection during a press conference at the Congress of the French Society for Colposcopy and Cervico-Vaginal Pathology.

4500 Chemical Compounds

To elucidate the role of tobacco in cervical cancer, Maruani noted that cigarettes contain nearly 4500 chemical compounds, 60 of which are carcinogenic. „We know, for example, that Benzopyrene increases virus load, while Nitrosamines act as carcinogens,“ she said. „And don’t believe that nicotine has no impact. Although it does not directly influence cancer development, it plays a detrimental role in terms of immunosuppression. Tobacco alters all components of immunity: cellular, humoral, local, and systemic.“

In fact, tobacco is the most significant modifiable risk factor for cancer, contributing to 13% of all cases. When considering cervical cancer in women, tobacco and HPV are the main risk factors. The same holds true for cancers of the throat and nasopharynx. „For all sites affected by an HPV infection, there is an extremely strong association between cancer and tobacco,“ Maruani stated.

The American National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted between 2011 and 2016 with 3,833 women supported this assumption, showing that tobacco exposure (passive smoking) increased the risk of an HPV infection by 32%. Among female smokers, this risk was elevated by 70% after accounting for numerous variables such as education and age.

Reduced Virus Clearance

How does tobacco work? It affects all stages of infection and immune response, including HPV replication, the expression of oncoproteins E6 and E7 (which facilitate lesion development), DNA damage, and immune response. Tobacco not only increases the likelihood of more frequent HPV infections and being more frequently carriers due to lower immunity, but also reduces virus clearance, Maruani explained. A study on Chinese women showed that smokers were 50% less likely to overcome the virus. It was also demonstrated that this likelihood of HPV clearance was proportional to the duration, quantity, and frequency of tobacco consumption.

Finally, a study found that tobacco was even more harmful in terms of lesions if smoking began before exposure to HPV.

„In summary, smoking increases the risk of HPV infection by impairing immunity and reducing antibody titers. This diminishes clearance and thus increases the persistence of HPV infection, raising the risk of precancerous lesions and cancer. Considering that tobacco is even more harmful when…“ „There is a genuine need for more effective policies to support and prevent tobacco cessation in young people,“ Maruani said.

„Unfortunately, people are left alone with their addiction when they should benefit from long and regular counseling, as smoking is a very strong addiction,“ she concluded.

This story was translated from the French edition of Medscape. In the process, several editorial tools, including AI, were used. Human editors have reviewed this content prior to publication.

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