A team from the Medical Research Council suggests that cancers like cervical cancers or womb cancers may be triggered by the presence of a hormone in semen. The researchers said that high levels of prostaglandin spurred the development of tumors.
In a report in the Journal of Endocrinology and Human Reproduction, the researchers recommend that women having either cancer should ask their sexual partners to use condoms. "Sexually active women who are at risk of cervical or uterine cancer should encourage their partners to wear a condom to prevent increased exposure to the prostaglandins that might make their condition worse," said lead author Dr Henry Jabbour.
''This also highlights the potential for a new therapeutic approach that will tackle both possible sources of prostaglandin - those produced naturally by women and those introduced to the body by sperm.'' Cervical cancer occurs in 2,800 cases each year in the UK. It is the second most common cancer in women globally.
Tumors in the cervix and womb have prostaglandin receptors on their surfaces and may be this is responsible for their high uptake.
Professor John Toy, medical director at Cancer Research UK, said the study was interesting. "The likelihood of any unprotected sex affecting the successful outcome of their treatment is considered slight. The most important thing that women can do at this time to prevent cervical cancer from developing is to go for regular cervical smear tests."