Studies have associated long-term use of birth control pills (more than five years) with an increased risk of cervical cancer. Since cervical cancer is caused by HPV, which is sexually transmitted, the association of HPV with birth control use may be related to sexual activity, not the pills themselves. We know that the risk of infection with HPV is increased with younger age at first intercourse, more frequent intercourse, and more partners.
The good news today is that the HPV vaccine given several years before first intercourse provides excellent protection against HPV infection. I encourage all parents to immunize their children against HPV before the teen years so that immunity develops well before first intercourse. Currently the HPV vaccine is approved only for females, but it is clear that males also develop HPV-related cancers and I hope it will be approved for males soon as well.
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