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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006 Nov;15(11):2141-7. Epub 2006 Oct 20.

Synergy between cigarette smoking and human papillomavirus type 16 in cervical cancer in situ development.

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Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, P.O. Box 281, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.



A majority of studies have implicated the involvement of cigarette smoking in cervical cancer development, although its mechanism of action remains unclear. We conducted a large population-based case-control study to address the potential interaction between smoking and human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) in development of cervical cancer in situ (CIS).


Information on risk factors for CIS was collected via interview, and archival cervical smears were tested for HPV-16 DNA presence in cases (n = 375) and controls (n = 363). Adjusted odds ratios (OR) for the effects of smoking, HPV-16 presence/absence, and load at first smear (taken, on average, 9 years before diagnosis) were calculated.


The risk for CIS among current smokers who were HPV-16 positive at time of first smear was >14-fold [adjusted OR, 14.4; confidence interval (95% CI), 5.6-36.8] compared with HPV-16-negative current smokers. In contrast, the risk for CIS among HPV-16-positive nonsmokers was only 6-fold (adjusted OR, 5.6; 95% CI, 2.7-11.5), compared with HPV-16-negative nonsmokers. HPV-16-positive smokers with high viral load at time of first smear exhibited a high risk for CIS (adjusted OR, 27.0; 95% CI, 6.5-114.2) compared with HPV-16-negative smokers. Within nonsmokers, however, high HPV-16 load contributed only a 6-fold increased risk compared with HPV-16-negative nonsmokers (adjusted OR, 5.9; 95% CI, 2.4-14.6). Interaction was observed (P = 0.03) between duration of smoking and HPV-16 presence in CIS development.


Results suggest a synergistic effect between smoking and both HPV-16 status and HPV-16 viral load, which may occur almost a decade before CIS detection.

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