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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2012 Nov;21(11):1949-55. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-0663. Epub 2012 Sep 26.

Risk for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 3 or worse in relation to smoking among women with persistent human papillomavirus infection.

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Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen, Denmark.



Smoking has been associated with cervical cancer. We examined whether smoking increases the risk for high-grade cervical lesions in women with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.


In a population-based cohort study, 8,656 women underwent a structured interview, and subsequently cervical cells were obtained for HPV DNA testing. Women with high-risk HPV infection and no prevalent cervical disease at baseline (n = 1,353) were followed through the Pathology Data Bank for cervical lesions for up to 13 years. Separate analyses of women with persistent high-risk HPV infection (n = 312) were also conducted. HRs for a diagnosis of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 3 or worse/high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions or worse (CIN3+) and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated in the two groups.


Among high-risk HPV-positive women, an increased risk for CIN3+ was associated with long-term smoking (≥10 years) and heavy smoking (≥20 cigarettes/d). In the subgroup of women with persistent HPV infection, heavy smoking was also associated with a statistically significantly higher risk for CIN3+ than never smoking (HR, 1.85; 95% CI, 1.05-3.22, adjusted for length of schooling, parity, and HPV type at baseline). The average number of cervical cytology screening tests per year during follow-up did not explain the differences in risk in relation to smoking (P = 0.4).


Smoking is associated with an increased risk for subsequent high-grade cervical lesions in women with persistent high-risk HPV infection.


Our study adds to the understanding of the role of smoking in the natural history of HPV and cervical carcinogenesis.

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