Women who have self-destructive coping strategies, like drinking, smoking cigarettes or taking drugs when stressed, were more likely to develop an active human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. If it continues for some years beyond the initial infection can lead to cervical cancer, say researchers.
Women with HPV infection should be advised that stress reduction may help them clear infection and drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes may hamper their ability to clear the infection.
‘Depression and stress can be harmful to women with HPV (human papillomavirus) infection. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) and is different from the HIV and herpes viruses.’
"We also found that women who were depressed or perceived themselves to have lots of stress were more likely to have HPV persistence," Moscicki added.
The team examined a group of 333 women and they were about 19-years-old on average when enrolled in the study.
During the 11th year of the study, those women were 28 years old, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about how much stress they had, how they coped with stress and if they were depressed.
They compared their answers to whether the women had HPV persistence -- meaning they still tested positive for the virus -- or whether the infection had cleared.
"HPV infections are the cause of cervical cancers. But HPV infections are extremely common and only the few infections that continue years beyond initial infection are at risk of developing cervical cancer," Moscicki stated.
"This is alarming since many of these women acquired their persistent infection as adolescents," Moscicki noted.
The study was scheduled to be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 meeting in Baltimore.