Risk factors for diseases like cancer include factors in your lifestyle or health that increase your likelihood of having that disease. There are multiple cervical cancer risk factors.
Risk factors for diseases like cancer include factors in your lifestyle or health that increase your likelihood of having that disease. There are multiple cervical cancer risk factors. Cervical cancer provides greater predictability than most other cancers. This means women with no risk factors for cervical cancer rarely develop the disease. But women with all of the risks still may not develop cervical cancer. Still, knowing the risk factors make maintaining good reproductive health easier. It also makes catching cervical cancer early easier, too.
Risk factors for cervical cancer include factors you control and factors you cannot control. Factors you can control are those you can change or avoid for lower risk of getting cancer of the cervix. Regardless of whether you have high risk for cervical cancer, you should undergo regular Pap tests to find cancer when it is still highly treatable.
Cervical Cancer Risk Factors
Cervical cancer risk factors include:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV): HPV is an infection passed from one sexual partner to another. This is the biggest risk factor for cervical cancer, one with actual physical symptoms in many women. These symptoms include appearance of genital warts.
- Smoking: Smoking increases your likelihood for cervical cancer by two times a non-smoker’s risk.
- A weakened immune system: Having HIV or taking drugs to suppress your immune system after organ transplant or due to an autoimmune disease increases your risk for cervical cancer.
- Chlamydia: Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection also possibly leading to cervical cancer, as many women with cervical cancer showed a history of chlamydia infection in their blood tests and cervical mucus sampling.
- Diet not including enough fruits and vegetables: Eating enough fruits and vegetables improves your risk for cervical cancer and other cancers, according to recent studies.
- Obesity: Being overweight leads to greater risk for adenocarcinoma of the cervix.
- Using oral birth control for a long term: Cervical cancer likely ties to long term use of birth control pills, with the longer you use those pills increasing your risk. After stopping birth control pill use, your risk decreases and reaches normal risk after about ten years without the pills.
- Using an intrauterine device (IUD): Using an IUD at any point lowers women’s risk of cervical cancer. This is true even when using the IUD for under a year. When you stop using an IUD, you still experience the benefits of lower risk.
- Multiple pregnancies: Women carrying three or more babies to full term have a higher risk for this cancer.
- Teen pregnancy: Teen pregnancy, particularly under the age of 17, increases cervical cancer risk by two times more than women waiting until age 25 or older for pregnancy.
- Family history: Cervical cancer may run in families, with a sister or mother having the cancer in common.
- Low income level: Many low-income females do not gain the healthcare they need, such as Pap tests. This increases risk of cervical cancer, particularly since they do not catch pre-cancers before they transform into cancers.