- A new study suggests that people who have had ten or more sexual partners in their lives are at increased risk of developing cancer.
- Certain sexually transmitted diseases, if left untreated, can lead to cancer.
- However, there are other factors that increase the risk of cancer, such as body weight or the habit of smoking.
- You can find more articles from Business Insider here.
The number of people who have had sex with is often jokingly compared among friends, but a new study shows the serious consequences of frequently changing sex partners – according to the researchers, the number may have an impact on cancer risk Person has.
The study, published in the BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health magazine on February 13, found that men who said they had ten or more sexual partners in their life had a 69 percent chance of diagnosing cancer of any kind was higher than that of men with or without a sexual partner.
Women with ten or more sexual partners were 91 percent more likely to develop cancer.
“We expected a relationship between the number of sexual partners and the risk of cancer, as previous research has shown that certain sexually transmitted infections can lead to multiple cancers,” Lee Smith, senior author of the article, told Insider. “Indeed, a higher number of sexual partners means a greater potential risk from venereal diseases.”
However, there are numerous caveats, including that the study does not target certain types of cancer. Smith, who works as a scientist at Anglia-Ruskin University in Cambridge, explains that the data that the researchers used did not contain any more precise information about the types of cancer.
The study also disregarded the participants’ smoking habits – an important cancer risk factor.
Women with ten or more sexual partners had a higher risk of cancer than men with the same number
For their study, the researchers were able to use existing data from people from Great Britain. This data set contains information on 2,537 men and 3,185 women who were 50 years or older and was created between 1998 and 2001.
First, the scientists divided the men and women into categories – depending on how many sexual partners they had in their life: up to one partner, one to four, five to nine or ten or more.
They also looked at the various chronic diseases people had, such as cancer, heart disease, or strokes.
If women had ten or more sexual partners, their risk of the disease was slightly higher than that of men. As Smith explains, it was a surprising result.
“This could be because the link between certain sexually transmitted diseases and cancer in women, such as HPV and cervical cancer, is stronger than that of HPV and penile cancer in men,” said Smith.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is a venereal disease, which can lead to symptoms like genital warts, but is usually asymptomatic, i.e. free of symptoms.
Therefore, it is possible that one person has HPV without knowing it and transfers it to someone else. This is one of the reasons why fourteen million new HPV infections occur in the United States each year, according to the American Sexual Health Association. If left untreated, HPV can lead to cervical or anal cancer.
Obesity and smoking habits are other cancer risk factors that were not considered in the study
However, the conclusions of the scientists are based on an existing database and not on their own research results. Therefore, it is possible that the connection you observed is a coincidence and does not provide any clear indication whether more sexual partners lead to an increased risk of cancer.
For this reason, Smith would like to see further studies in the future that examine the relationship between the number of sexual partners and certain types of cancer.
“This is an interesting piece of research, but unfortunately it didn’t fully address two important cancer risk factors – smoking and weight -” said Natasha Paton, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, told The Sun newspaper.
“Instead of worrying about the number of sexual partners, the best thing you can do to lower your risk of cancer, quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce alcohol,” Paton emphasizes.
In addition, the study only looked at people in the UK over 50 years of age. So the results are not representative of everyone who is sexually active.
For example, in the United States, men under the age of 30 report that they have an average of 26 sexual partners and women of the same age have an average of 19. But these data do not reveal their health risks.
Another point of criticism is the fact that the data on which the study is based are based on self-disclosure. So it is possible that the men and women have not quite truthfully stated the actual number of their sexual partners.
READ ALSO: Researchers have found that a certain property of the partner can significantly reduce their risk of dementia
Experts hope that the study will encourage older people to play it safe during intercourse
Smith explains that he hopes his study will remind older people who are sexually active that there are risks associated with unprotected sex, particularly with regard to sexually transmitted diseases.
“Older adults should also play it safe with sexual intercourse, and if they have had risky sexual activities, they should see a doctor,” said Smith.
This text has been translated from English by Franziska Heck.