The Human Papilloma Virus - Twenty million people in the USA infected


By: Dr. S Lawson

dave.jpgThe Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD). HPV is at epidemic proportions in the united States. There is an 80% life time risk of acquiring this infection. Twenty million people in the United States alone are infected with HPV but are unaware of it. Cervical cancer is the 2nd most common cause of cancer world wide. HPV affects primarily the cervix, but the penis, anus, and the mouth can be infected.

Predisposing risk factors include smoking, oral contraceptive pills, pregnancy (low immunity), inadequate nutrition, early age of sexual activity, multiple sexual partners, weakened immune system (HIV positive, chemotherapy) and other STDs i.e. Chlamydia. Transmission requires skin to skin contact. Some strains of HPV predispose women to develop cervical cancer and some strains have predisposing factors for warts. HPV-DNA test is available to detect the presence of HPV infection in women. The Pap (Papanicolaou) test is a screening test that will identify precancerous cells of the cervix so that further diagnostic and therapeutic work up can be implemented to prevent the development of cervical cancer. Gardasil is a vaccine, approved by the FDA, for young girls and young women age 9-26 that provides substantial protection against the most common strains of HPV.

Vertical transmission (mother to child) is a serious but rare mode of infection in HPV infected women. Condoms significantly decrease the transmission of HPV, but transmission may still occur where the exposed skin comes in contact (i.e. shaft of the penis and the vaginal wall and the scrotum and the perineum). HPV has been identified as an etiology of oral cancers. Anal intercourse increases the risk HPV induced dysplasia (potential precancerous cells), especially in women with cervical dysplasia. Cigarette smoking is the most serious risk factor that causes cervical dysplastic cell to become malignant. HPV is so common in HIV positive women, that it is listed as an "AID's defined illness". Chlamydia is an intracellular parasite, a common asymptomatic infection, that make the cervical epithelium more prone to mutation of certain protective mechanisms. When HPV enters a human cell, it takes control of the cell's replicating mechanism and causes cell to grow uncontrollably, giving rise to warts.

DNA testing shows that approximately 90% of all cervical cancers test positive for HPA-strain-16,18 and 45. HPA-6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts. The Pap test is an effective way to detect precancerous cells. Current guidelines recommend women have their first Pap test about 3 years after they begin to have sexual intercourse, but no later than age 21.

If a woman gets an abnormal Pap test result, a colposcope (light microscope) is used to magnify the view of the vagina and cervix. Endocervical curettage (scraping of cells in the endocervical canal) or biopsy can be used as definitive test for malignancy. If precancerous or malignant cells are found, curative techniques are used to destroy the malignant cells. The LEEP technique involves the use of a thin, low voltage wire loop that cuts out abnormal tissue. Cryotherapy freezes and destroys abnormal tissues. Laser therapy uses a narrow beam of light to destroy abnormal cells and Conization removes a cone-shaped piece of tissue using a knife, a laser, or the LEEP technique. About 60% of cervical cancers are discovered in the early stage where cancer cells have invaded the cervix, but it has not spread anywhere else. If the cancer is not controlled it can cause cervical bleeding that would require radiation (intravaginal). Radiation is usually successful in controlling the bleeding and growth of the tumor, but scaring of the vaginal wall and premature menopause are usual a result. The Gardasil vaccine provides protection against the most common strains of HPA-16,18, 6, and11. The vaccine does not protect against the less common strains, so regular Pap tests will be needed to detect the presence of precancerous cells to allow for proper treatment. One draw back with the vaccine is that it may actually increase the risk of developing cervical cancer in women already exposed to the virus. The vaccine is less beneficial in females with more lifetime sexual partners.

Anything that compromises the immune system will predispose an individual to HPV infection. Obesity causes an estrogen dominant state which leads to excessive cell replication. Excessive fat is an indication of excessive toxins (heavy metals and pesticides, herbicides, toxins of cigarette). Substances like coffee, alcohol, sugar, and boiled tap water deplete the body of nutrients that support the enzymes that make our immune system function effectively. Foods that can boost the immune system and stimulate immune modulating activity at the genetic level are broccoli (indole-3-carbinol), Shatakii, reshi and matakii mushroom boost the NK (natural killer cell) activity which destroys cancerous cells. Foods high in antioxidants (antioxidants stabilize and protect DNA from mutation, thus ensuring adequate circulation and cell replication) i.e. green tea, black sesame seeds, brazil nuts, walnuts, cherry tomatoes, wild salmon, sardine, herring, pomegranate juice, mangoes, essential oil. All these therapeutic modalities are most effective when there is optimal cardiovascular function.

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