”Baby boomers” increasingly hit by sex cancers

February 4th, 2009 - 5:40 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Feb 4 (ANI): Rates of anal, vulval and vaginal cancers have increased among “baby boomers” born in the decades after the Second World War, says a new study.

And according to the study by King’’s College London, the human papillomavirus (HPV), acquired during sex, is responsible for the trend.

In fact, the British Journal of Cancer reported that the changes in sexual habits might be responsible for the high number of cancer occurrences in people of that generation.

HPV has been implicated in a number of cancers, including cervical, anal, vulval, vaginal and penile.

According to estimates, up to three out of four people will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives, although the immune system is normally able to destroy it.

However, if an infection is persistent, it may cause cells to become cancerous.

Using figures from a cancer database, the study suggested that rates of some of these cancers rose quickly for the generations born in the 1950s and 1960s.

Although, there has been a steady rise in anal cancer rates over that period in both men and women, women born in the 1960s were found to be three times more likely to develop it than those born 20 years earlier.

Despite the fall in the rates of vaginal and vulval cancer in modern generations, they are higher in the 1960s generation of women as compared to those born in the first half of the 1940s.

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer linked to HPV.

The scientists observed that the rates of the disease were steady during the studied period, and they mainly credited it to the cervical screening programme.

It is believed that the risk to future generations from the disease may fall further after the introduction of a vaccine to some types of HPV.

According to the researchers it was believed that both changes in sexual practices, and a greater exposure to HPV were the likely cause for those increased rates.

“These results have revealed a snapshot of just how much rates of these cancers have increased in the post war generations, The BBC quoted Dr David Robinson, who led the study, as saying.

He added: “For anal cancer, rates are now higher in women than in men - however, programmes of vaccination against HPV, whilst aimed primarily at reducing the burden of cervical cancer, may also help to reduce the incidence of cancers at these other sites.” (ANI)

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