HPV, human papillomavirus, is seen as increasing a woman’s chances of contracting heart disease, a new medical study warns.
The sexually transmitted pathogen HPV is already a known culprit in hatching other medical maladies in the body, including cervical cancer. And the problem is that there is no known scientific defense against HPV, one of the most common sexually transmitted pathogens in the country. Worse, HPV can ignite these ailments in women even if they don’t have the risk factors normally associated with heart disease.
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found a strong link between cancer-causing HPV strains and heart disease. Their study points out that nearly a fifth of people who have heart disease also don’t have common risk factors, such as obesity, smoking, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
That means that “other ‘nontraditional’ causes may be involved in the development of the disease. HPV appears to be one such factor among women,” study author Dr. Ken Fujise, director of the cardiology division at the hospital, said in a UTMB news release.
What does this mean for women in the immediate future?
“This has important clinical implications,” the study added. “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 [cardiovascular disease] to avoid future cardiovascular events.”
However, the link remains observational and causation has yet to be proven. “We’re not certain if there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the [HPV and heart disease],” Fujise stressed.
There does seem to be an association between the two, however. “Iif this biological mechanism is proven, a drug compound that inhibits the inactivation of p53 could help prevent CVD in women already infected with HPV,” Fujise said.