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New study: Higher number of sexual partners linked with increased cancer risk

A new study shows that women who had more than 10 sexual partners are 91% more likely to have cancer than those who had only one partner.
Wed Feb 19, 2020 - 6:38 pm EST
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February 19, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – People who had more sexual partners throughout their life have a higher chance of being diagnosed with cancer, according to a study published in the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health.

“Compared to women who reported one partner or none, those who reported 10 or more were 91% more likely to have been diagnosed with cancer. Similarly, men with 10 or more partners were 64% more likely to have been diagnosed with cancer compared to men with one partner or none,” Reuters reported on the findings of the study.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute, an international organization that defends the family, was not surprised by the results of the study.

“Goodness! A big expensive study to tell us that having multiple sexual partners is unhealthy! Who knew? I’ll tell you who knew: Your grandma, the Church and what used to be called ‘common sense,’” she remarked to LifeSiteNews.

Morse is also the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and Why the Church Was Right All Along.

Lee Smith, one of the co-authors of the study, speculated on the reason for the higher risk in women. “This may be because the link between certain [sexually transmitted infections] and cancer is stronger in women, such as HPV and cervical cancer, compared to HPV and penile cancer,” she told WebMD.

The study was based on data provided by 2,537 men and 3,185 women over 50 who had participated in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. This study tracks a certain number of people for a longer time, creating a better opportunity to observe changes in the participants.

As the study published by BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health explains, the participants stated the number of sexual partners during their lifetime. They also provided “self-rated health and self-reported limiting long-standing illness, cancer, coronary heart disease, and stroke.”

Reuters broke down the numbers: “Among men, 29% reported one or zero sexual partners, 29% had two to four, 20% had five to nine and 22% reported having 10 or more. Among women, just under 41% had one or zero sexual partners, 36% reported two to four partners, 16% reported five to nine partners and 8% said they had 10 or more.”

“Indeed, a higher number of sexual partners means greater potential exposure” to sexually transmitted infections, the director of research at the Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University in England summarized.

While the study shows an association, it cannot prove that having more sexual partners throughout life directly causes a greater likelihood of having cancer. However, a more promiscuous lifestyle often goes hand in hand with other behaviors known to increase the risk of cancer.

“Those who reported a higher tally of sexual partners were more likely to smoke, drink frequently, and do more vigorous physical activity on a weekly basis,” inews wrote.

Pro-abstinence organization Love Facts offers a chart that allows people to calculate the extent of their sexually transmitted disease (STD) exposure based on their number of sexual partners. According to the chart, a person who had 10 sexual partners, each of whom also only had 10 partners, will have been potentially exposed to the STDs of 1,023 others.

Robert Edwards, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, told Reuters that “smoking and alcohol consumption amplify the risk for cancer with certain sexually transmitted diseases.”

Lee Smith emphasized the need for using “appropriate protection,” reducing “the risk of related cancers going forward.”

However, STDcheck.com, a service that facilitates STD testing, explains that many STDs can be transmitted even if a condom is used during intercourse. The website lists, among others, HPV, genital herpes, syphilis, and pubic lice.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal agency and the leading national public health institute of the United States, is equally cautious.

“However, condom use cannot provide absolute protection against any STD. The most reliable ways to avoid transmission of STDs are to abstain from sexual activity, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.”

Morse provided different advice. “As a happily married woman, I have an ‘active sex life,’ but absolutely zero ‘risky encounters.’ These researchers should be telling people to get married, stay married and only have sex with the person you are married to. That would solve a lot of problems, including health problems.”


  cancer, jennifer roback morse, promiscuity, sexually transmitted disease, sexually transmitted infections

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