Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is currently considered the most common sexually transmitted infection worldwide. It is estimated that up to 80% of the sexually active population (both men and women) may have contact with the virus at some point in their lives. Although the most common is that the infection is transient and clears up within two years of infection without causing any type of symptom or leaving any type of sequelae, there are 10-15% of the population in which HPV infection persists over time. HPV is a necessary, though not sufficient, cause of genital warts in men and women, and cervical cancer in women and penile cancer in men. It is also associated with other types of cancer that affect both sexes, such as rectal and head and neck cancer.
In Spain, the current prevalence of infection in women is 14%. It varies between communities, being highest in La Rioja, Murcia, Balearic Islands, Navarra (above 15%) and lowest in Cantabria, Asturias, Castilla y León and Castilla-La Mancha (below 10%).
HPV vaccination is routinely included and funded as part of routine vaccination programs for the immunization of girls aged 12 years, with vaccination rates of 91.9% for the first dose and 82.4% for the full regimen, according to the latest data published in 2020. This year, universal immunization of twelve-year-old boys was included in the vaccination calendar for the first time.
However, there are other countries, such as the United States, where such high vaccination rates are not achieved, and the incidence has increased in recent years as a result of condoms being discontinued as a method of protection.
Four key antioxidants
Diet is known to play an important role in contributing to the risk of various types of cancer, and in those related to HPV, various researches have shown that diets that include high consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are protective. Specifically four dietary antioxidants (vitamins A, B2, E and folate) qwhich are in dark green vegetables (such as spinach, kale, and broccoli), green vegetables (such as lima beans, peas, soybeans), and fruits (such as oranges, grapes, blueberries, and mangoes) were indirectly associated with high-risk HPV infection.
A new study conducted by researchers at the LSU Health New Orleans Schools of Public Health and Medicine (Louisiana, United States) reveals that an unhealthy diet contributes to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which causes cervical cancer, as reported by Europa Press. This type of diet includes, among others, red meat, processed and ultra-processed products, sugary drinks or high salt intake.
“This study showed that Women who did not eat fruits, dark green vegetables and vegetables had a significantly increased risk of high-risk genital HPV infection.”, says the study’s lead author and professor of biostatistics at LSU Health New Orleans, Hui-Yi Lin. The work, published in the “Journal of Infectious Diseases,” included data from 10,543 North American women aged 18 to 59 with valid data on genital HPV infection. Subjects with any dose of HPV vaccination or a history of cancer were excluded.
The authors suggest that the potential biological mechanism of fruit, dark green vegetables, and green vegetables to inhibit HPV infection may be missed improving immune response and reducing inflammation.
In this country, the prevalence of any HPV infection is 40.7%, the high-risk rate is 19%, the low-risk rate is 21%, and the HPV-negative rate is 59%. A common feature of the US population, both men and women, is that they score low on the Healthy Eating Index for vegetables, fruits and vegetables, with less than half of the optimal score of five.
The research team also noted that Women who ate healthily tended to practice other healthy behaviors. For example, women with a maximum score of five on the total fruit were less likely to be current smokers, frequent alcohol drinkers, and illicit substance users during their lifetime. They were also less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior.
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