Photo: Acculturated Latinas Higher Risk for Cervical Cancer
Latina women in the United States have higher rates of cervical cancer than white women. A recent study shows that Latinas who have acculturated (i.e., they think in, speak, and read English at home or with friends) may be at higher risk for contracting human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer than less-acculturated Latinas.
Researchers examined National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data and its Short Acculturation Scale as well as HPV test results for 503 Latinas and 442 Mexican-American women. They found that U.S.-born Mexican women had double the odds of having 1 of the 15 HPV types known to lead to cervical cancer compared with foreign-born Mexican women in the United States.
Further, U.S.-born Mexican women whose parents were both born in the United States had a 2.24 increased odds of any type of HPV infection and a 2.98 increased odds for having 1 of the 15 HPV types known to cause cervical cancer. White women had a 14.5 percent infection rate for 1 of 15 HPV types known to lead to cancer. U.S. Mexican women had a 13.2 percent infection rate for high-risk forms of HPV, and other Latinas had a 16.1 percent high-risk infection rate.
Furthermore, U.S. Mexican women with high levels of acculturation had a 16.5 percent infection rate. Rates of HPV in U.S. Mexican women may be a result of higher risk sexual behavior, because the authors found that more acculturated U.S. Mexican women also had higher rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes II, which are sexually transmitted infections. They suggest that targeting interventions for U.S. Mexican women that increase HPV vaccination, promote healthier sexual choices, and increase Pap smears may be effective in reducing cervical cancer rates in this group.
This study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. See “Acculturation and HPV infection among Latinas in the United States,” by Deanna Kepka, M.P.H., M.A., Gloria D. Coronado, Ph.D., Hector P. Rodriguez, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Beti Thompson, Ph.D., in Preventive Medicine.