KEY POINTS

  • The unmarried, highly wealthy or highly poor lot had a higher number of lifetime sex partners
  • Having more than 10 sex partners associated with a higher risk of cancer
  • Multiple sex partners can cause HPV infection which might lead to cancer

Needless to say, having multiple sex partners increases one’s likelihood of developing HIV or several other sexually transmitted diseases. But, a recent study reported that the number of sexual partners you have might be linked to your risk of developing cancer.

Per the new study published in BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, the number of prior sexual partners may be a new risk factor, at least if the number is more than 10.

The Study

Igor Grabovac and his co-researchers investigated the sex-specific link between lifetime number of sexual partners and several health outcomes in a large sample of older adults. The study included 2537 men and 3185 women aged 50 and above. The participants were questioned about the number of sexual partners they have had in their lifetime.

The findings suggested that having 10 or more lifetime sexual partners was linked to higher odds of reporting a diagnosis of cancer compared to those who had 0-1 sexual partners in both men and women respectively.

“A higher lifetime number of sexual partners is associated with increased odds of reported cancer. Longitudinal research is required to establish causality. Understanding the predictive value of the lifetime number of sexual partners as a behavioral risk factor may improve the clinical assessment of cancer risk in older adults,” the study concluded.

Some interesting trends noted in the study:

  • Men reported having more sex partners than women
  • Being unmarried, highly wealthy or highly poor was associated with having a higher number of lifetime sex partners
  • Only 67% of individuals in the study responded to a sexual history survey.

The researchers noted that having higher sexual partners increases a person’s risk of sexually transmitted infections and some of them might cause cancer.

Being infected with Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main risk factor of cervical cancer. And it’s known that having multiple sexual partners might increase a person’s risk of developing an HPV infection. A 2015 study reported that the risk of both malignant and non-malignant disease is relatively stable among women who had more than 4-7 sex partners with or without HPV infection.

feet-224680_1920 having more than 10 sexual partners increases cancer risk Photo: niekverlaan, Pixabay