People who use tobacco are more vulnerable to oral human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16), which is a sexually transmitted infection, says a new study.
Oral HPV-16 is believed to be responsible for the increase in incidence of oropharyngeal squamous cell cancers in the United States. An association between self-reported number of cigarettes currently smoked per day and oral HPV prevalence has been observed, according to background information in the article.
Carole Fakhry from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and along with her colleagues investigated associations between objective biomarkers reflective of all current tobacco exposures (environmental, smoking, and use of smoke-less tobacco) and oral HPV-16 prevalence.
The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a probability sample of the U.S. population. Mobile examination center participants ages 14 to 69 years were eligible for oral HPV DNA testing.
The analysis included 6,887 NHANES participants, of whom 2,012 (28.6 percent) were current tobacco users and 63 (1.0 percent) had oral HPV-16 detected. Current tobacco users were more likely than nonusers to be male, younger, less educated, and to have a higher number of lifetime oral sexual partners. Self-reported and biological measures of tobacco exposure as well as oral sexual behavior were significantly associated with prevalent oral HPV-16 infection. Oral HPV-16 prevalence was greater in current tobacco users (2.0 percent) compared with never or former tobacco users (0.6 percent). Average cotinine and NNAL levels were higher in individuals with vs without oral HPV-16 infection.
The study is published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).