STIs are the main suspect in this increased risk of cancer, but people with more sexual partners also tend to enjoy other risky behaviors, Smith noted.
"In our study, those with a higher number of sexual partners were more likely to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol frequently, behaviors known to be associated with cancer risk," said Smith. "It is possible that the number of sexual partners one has had captures a combination of probability of exposure to STIs and lifestyle profile."
The study was published on February 13 in the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health.
Two U.S. health experts UU. Who did not participate in the study commented on the findings.
While interesting, this study has flaws that make it difficult to draw meaningful conclusions about what it found, said Dr. Konstantin Zakashansky, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City .
Sex and cancer are sensitive issues, and it is questionable whether one can rely on people to accurately report their promiscuity or their diagnosis of cancer, said Zakashansky.
"The problem is that people report too much, they report little. It is not known how sincere they are," said Zakashansky. "There are also prejudices, where they really don't remember."
These are real problems with the study, agreed Mia Gaudet, scientific director of epidemiological research at the American Cancer Society.
But Gaudet said the report highlights a possible cause of cancer that requires more research.
"The general conclusions are consistent with what we know about the potential role of viruses in cancer, and support further studies," Gaudet said.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) has been linked to cervical, oral, anal and penile cancer, he said, while hepatitis B and C are related to liver cancer. It is likely that other viruses may be related to other forms of cancer.
"Sexual health is a little studied because of the taboos that surround it. While this study is not ideal, it is useful to have information about this space," Gaudet said.
Meanwhile, people who have been promiscuous should talk to their doctor, Smith urged.
"People who had risky sexual encounters should contact their health care providers to have them checked for possible infectious sexually transmitted diseases and should talk openly about how to minimize this risk," said Smith. "Wearing adequate protection will reduce the risk of related cancers in the future."
. (tagsToTranslate) sexual health (t) cancer (t) study (t) sex (t) (t) cancer risk