December 3, 2004
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.--Researchers from the University of Alabama tested the hypothesis that systemic concentrations of folate are associated with the occurrence and duration of high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infections, which may be related to the development of cervical cancer. Several micronutrients have been implicated in cervical carcinogenesis; however, their mode of action is still a matter of speculation, the researchers wrote, and it remains unclear whether certain nutrients reduce the probability of acquiring high-risk (HPV) or whether they facilitate the clearance of high-risk HPV. After controlling for other micronutrients (vitamins B12, A, E, C and total carotene) and known risk factors for high-risk HPV infections and cervical cancer, the scientists conducted a 24-month prospective follow-up study.
Circulating concentrations of these micronutrients and risk factors for cervical cancer were determined in a cohort of 345 women who were at risk of developing cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. Using the hybrid capture 2 (HC-2) assay, high-risk HPV status was evaluated at six-month intervals up to 24 months. All women had at least three consecutive visit high-risk HPV test results. Higher folate status was inversely associated with becoming HC-2 test-positive, whereas women with higher folate status were significantly less likely to be repeatedly HC-2 test-positive and more likely to become test-negative during the study.
The researchers concluded improving folate status in subjects at risk of infection or already infected with high-risk HPV may have a beneficial impact in the prevention of cervical cancer. The study is published in the December issue of Cancer Research (64, 8788-93, 2004) (http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org).
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