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Int J Epidemiol. 1997 Jun;26(3):491-5.

Sexual risk factors for cervical cancer among rural Indian women: a case-control study.

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  • 1Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology, NRS Medical College, Calcutta, India.



The association between sexual behaviour and cervical cancer is well established. Despite a high incidence of cervical cancer in India, its role has not been widely investigated in Indian women among whom the rate of sexual promiscuity is known to be very low. A hospital-based case-control study was carried out to investigate the role of sexual risk factors in cervical cancer among rural Indian women.


A case-control design was used in which a total of 268 subjects, comprising 134 women with invasive cervical cancer as cases and 134 control women were studied. A multiple logistic regression model was used to analyse the data.


The risk factors found to be associated with cervical cancer were early age at first coitus, extramarital sex partners of women and the time interval since first exposure. In a multiple logistic regression model, independent effects were observed for early age at first coitus, showing maximum risk in women who reported their first intercourse at < 12 years of age, compared to that of women at > or = 18 years (odds ratio [OR] = 3.5. 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.1-10.9). Increased risk was also seen for women who had extramarital sex relationships (OR = 5.5, 95% CI: 1.5-19.5). The significant effect of early age at first coitus persisted after adjustment for latency period which also showed its independent risk association with cervical cancer in the multivariate analysis.


These findings confirm the association between early age at first coitus and cervical cancer in women with a low rate of sexual promiscuity and define the role of these risk factors in cervical carcinogenesis among rural Indian women.

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