“The risk of squamous cell carcinoma increases in current smokers with the number of cigarettes smoked per day and with younger age at starting smoking.” – International Journal of Cancer
A study published in the International Journal of Cancer stated that “Smokers have an increased risk of developing precancerous and cancerous cervical lesions caused by infection with high-risk HPV types.” (strains of the human papillomavirus that can lead to cancer.) (1)
The same study suggested that the risk of developing genital warts is not as readily apparent if one happens to be a smoker. The authors wrote that, “Some studies report no significant association between smoking and acquisition of genital warts among women, whereas others report an increased risk of genital warts among female smokers, ranging up to a five-fold increased risk for current smokers compared with non-smokers.”
There is much research, however, that points to the fact that smoking lowers the immune system, and thus increases smoker’s risk for developing cervical or other cancers. As the authors of the study noted, “Smoking may influence the susceptibility to genital warts through a causal immunosuppressive effect, and/or through an association with risk taking that extends to sexual behavior.”
What does this mean for the average person?
With information like the above readily available, it should be obvious that both women and men should stop smoking in order to decrease damage to the immune system. A healthy immune system is the best means of combating an HPV infection. In fact, the CDC says “In 90% of cases, the body’s immune system clears HPV naturally within two years.” (2) The problem arises when the immune system is weakened and the HPV virus is able to cause symptoms like genital warts.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. In fact, over 20 million people in the U.S. are infected with the Human Papillomavirus. Since HPV is transmitted through any skin-to-skin contact, one does not have to have sex in order to become infected with the virus.
“There are no drugs approved against the HPV. Current treatments include procedures, such as cryotherapy, conization, and the Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP). These procedures use liquid nitrogen, a surgical knife (scalpel), a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser, or electrical current to remove the abnormal growths caused by the HPV. These growths include cells that harbor the active virus. The procedures do not target cells with the latent virus. Since they do not remove the latent virus, these procedures only produce a temporary remission.” (3)
Bottom line? As much research has suggested …
Stop smoking. Now.
(1) Rajkumar T, Appleby P, Beral V, et al. Carcinoma of the cervix and tobacco smoking: collaborative reanalysis of individual data on 13,541 women with carcinoma of the cervix and 23,017 women without carcinoma of the cervix from 23 epidemiological studies – international collaboration of epidemiological studies of cervical cancer. Int J Cancer 2006;118:1481 – 95
(2) CDC.gov – Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – Page last updated: March 26, 2015
(3) Polansky H, Itzkovitz E. Gene-Eden-VIR Is Antiviral: Results of a Post Marketing Clinical Study. Pharmacology & Pharmacy, 2013, 4, 1-8