GALVESTON, October 27, 2011 ( – The condom-resistant sexually transmitted disease human papillomavirus (HPV), known to be the leading cause of cervical cancer, has also been linked to increased risk of heart attack according to new research released this week.

Women with cancer-causing strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) may be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke, even when no conventional risk factors for CVD are present.

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston are the first to investigate a potential connection between CVD and HPV, one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the U.S. Their findings are published in the November 1st issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“Nearly 20 percent of individuals with CVD do not show any risk factors, indicating that other ‘nontraditional’ causes may be involved in the development of the disease. HPV appears to be one such factor among women,” said lead author Dr. Ken Fujise, Director, Division of Cardiology at UTMB. 

Fujise and his colleagues believe the link may be due to HPV’s role in inactivating two tumor suppressor genes, p53 and retinoblastoma protein (pRb).

“If this biological mechanism is proven, a drug compound that inhibits the inactivation of p53 could help prevent CVD in women already infected with HPV,” said Fujise.

The study analyzed nearly 2,500 women ages 20-59 using cross-sectional data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.