Cancer: The common STI that could ‘double’ the risk of cancer – infects millions annually

NHS: Expert gives advice on treatment of chlamydia

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In 2020, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data showing a decrease in STI rates, but it later emerged the downtrend wasn’t real, as it simply reflected a dip in testing efforts. In fact, experts are confident STI rates could be on the rise since stay-at-home orders were lifted. While infection elicits mild discomfort only, others can put lives on the line. One sexually transmitted infection has even been linked with a doubling in ovarian cancer risk.

Chlamydia – a very common STI which can lead to female infertility – could be on the rise since screenings were put off during the pandemic.

But unfortunately, most affected women show no symptoms, so a large number of cases go amiss until further complications arise.

According to one body of research, delayed treatment of the STI could lead to a “doubling” in ovarian cancer risk.

The association was established during an analysis of two separate studies on patients with ovarian cancer.

READ MORE: Chlamydia: The symptom of the highly prevalent STI that can show up on your face

The first, which was conducted in Poland, looked at 279 ovarian cancer patients and 556 controls.

The second study, conducted by the US National Cancer Institute, was a case-control analysis that included 160 women with ovarian cancer and 159 controls.

Both studies found women who had previously contracted chlamydia had double the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is a well-known consequence of HPV, and researchers have long sought to curb infections through testing.

But interestingly, HPV didn’t affect cancer risk in either study. In fact, the findings suggested chlamydia conferred a greater risk of developing cancer compared to HPV.

What’s more, the risk rose among anyone who had ever been infected, regardless of how long they’d had it for.

Researchers were unable to determine, however, whether treating the STI early could lower the risk of cancer.

The lead author, Britton Trabert, of the National Cancer Institute, said at the time: “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 US, is chlamydia infection.

“We are seeing a doubling in ovarian cancer risk. with a prior inflammatory disease.”

Symptoms of ovarian cancer can include fatigue, upset stomach, pain during sex, constipation, changes in a woman’s period, and abdominal swelling.

But these signs often masquerade as other ailments, and a large number of cases are asymptomatic.

What are the symptoms of Chlamydia?

The CDC estimates that four million people were diagnosed with chlamydia in 2018.

What’s more, two-thirds of infections are among younger age groups of 14-25. General symptoms include a burning sensation while urinating, abnormal discharge from the penis and vagina.

The longer the STI is left untreated, the more severe the complications further down the line. The consequences are less severe for men, however.

At best, the STI can cause discomfort in men, at worst, it can spread to the testicles and cause them to become swollen.

One complication of unresolved chlamydia infection in women, however, is a pelvic inflammatory disease, which can lead to ectopic pregnancy and infertility.

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