Chlamydia, described as the most common sexually transmitted disease, may possibly double the risk of ovarian cancer, according to new research from the National Cancer Institute.
Over 1.5 million Americans have chlamydia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The STD causes no symptoms, so some people do not even know that they have been infected with it.
Chlamydia Doubles Ovarian Cancer Risk
Researchers have discovered that women who suffer from chronic chlamydia infections carried twice the ovarian cancer risk compared to women who have never been infected with the STD. The findings are expected to be presented in April at an American Association for Cancer Research meeting.
"Our data is lending support for there being a role of pelvic inflammatory disease in ovarian cancer and the prime cause of pelvic inflammatory disease, particularly in the U.S., is chlamydia infection," said Britton Trabert of the National Cancer Institute in a briefing.
The study, which tested the blood samples of over 1,000 women in the United States and Poland for the chlamydia antibody, is the first one that focuses on the complications associated with the STD. Further studies will be needed to provide more evidence on the connection of chlamydia and ovarian cancer, but this research has already served the purpose of increasing awareness on chlamydia, its detection, and its treatment.
Chlamydia is easy to treat with a set of pills or antibiotics, so the issue is that women do not feel the need to be tested if they have the STD. The possibility of chlamydia increasing ovarian cancer risk, however, should get more women to have themselves checked.
Ovarian cancer is relatively rare compared to the disease's other forms. However, women who get it do not have good chances of survival. Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of death among women, with 55 percent succumbing to the disease within five years after diagnosis.
Spotlight On Ovarian Cancer
Research on ovarian cancer has been steadily growing, as scientists try to determine the signs and symptoms associated with it. Among the factors that were suggested include gluten intolerance and frequent urination. It has also been discovered that a gene mutation passed from fathers to daughters may increase ovarian cancer risk.
Perhaps the most high-profile case involving ovarian cancer in recent times is the lawsuit filed against Johnson & Johnson. The defendant claimed that she developed ovarian cancer after using the company's talc-based products.
The woman from Virginia won the lawsuit and was awarded $110 million. However, the loss of Johnson & Johnson does not necessarily mean that all women should stop using products such as baby powder, as the evidence linking talc-based products to the development of ovarian cancer has not yet been scientifically proven.