The link between prostate cancer & promiscuity
Young men who are sexually active with more than one person face an increased risk of prostate cancer in later life. Research to emerge from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm points to sexual promiscuity as a leading risk factor in contracting human papilloma virus (HPV). Already linked to cervical cancer in women, HPV may explain why there has been a recent upsurge in prostate cancer in men. If correct, the theory is that once young men are exposed to HPV it kick-starts a chain of genetic mutations that can eventually lead to cancer decades later.
The Swedish study, involving 500 men, involved taking blood samples from young men who were showing the earliest signs of the disease. Researchers found increased levels of antibodies to HPV and a link between this and the number of sexual partners. Some 40 per cent of 40-year-old men show early signs of prostate cancer. In most cases the disease grows so slowly that men die of other causes first, but in others the disease surges forward.
There are more than 100 types of HPV and only some of these are associated with cancer. Most people who get HPV simply shrug it off which may suggest that other factors are involved in cancer. Smoking, for example, is known to add to the risk. Since problems with the old PSA test were revealed in diagnosing prostate cancer a new test called PCA3 is due to used in order to provide a more accurate diagnosis. The PSA test measures antigens in the blood which can be released in conditions other than cancer. By contrast, the new test based on a gene knwn as PCA3, only becomes active whe prostate cancer takes hold.