According to the results of a study published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, men with a history of infection with Chlamydia trachomatis, high-risk types of human papillomavirus, or human herpesvirus type 8 do not have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

The prostate is a gland of the male reproductive system. It produces some of the fluid that transports sperm during ejaculation.

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer (other than skin cancer) in U.S. men; an estimated 218,890 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007.[1]

Risk factors for prostate cancer include age and race. Risk of prostate cancer increases with dramatically age and is also higher in African-American men than in White men.

Some studies have suggested that a history of sexually transmitted infections may also increase risk of prostate cancer. To explore whether a history of three specific sexually transmitted infections influences risk of prostate cancer, researchers evaluated information from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.[2] This study began in 1986 and enrolled more than 51,000 male U.S. health professionals.

The study focused on three sexually transmitted infections: Chlamydia trachomatis; human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16, 18, or 33; and human herpesvirus type 8. Chlamydia trachomatis is often asymptomatic in men and may therefore persist for long periods of time in the male genitourinary tract. HPV types 16, 18, and 33 have been linked with cancers of the cervix, vulva, anus, and penis. Human herpesvirus type 8 is linked with Kaposi’s sarcoma.

Tests for antibody levels in the blood were used to identify men with a history of these infections. The frequency of these infections in men with prostate cancer was compared to the frequency of these infections in men without prostate cancer.

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  • History of infection with Chlamydia trachomatis or HPV types 16, 18, or 33 was not linked with risk of prostate cancer.
  • History of infection with human herpesvirus type 8 was linked with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. A history of this infection was identified in 13.5% of the men with prostate cancer and 18% of the men without prostate cancer.

The researchers conclude that the three sexually transmitted infections evaluated in this study do not appear to increase the risk of prostate cancer. The possibility that one of the infections-human herpesvirus type 8-may be linked with a reduced risk of prostate cancer was unexpected and will need to be evaluated by additional studies.

References:

[1] American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2007. Available at: (Accessed August 17, 2007).

[2] Sutcliffe S, Giovannucci E, Gaydos CA et al. Plasma antibodies against Chlamydia trachomatis, human papillomavirus, and human herpesvirus type 8 in relation to prostate cancer: a prospective study. Cancer Epidemiology Biomrakers & Prevention. 2007;16:1573-1580.

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