Hashish and HPV: good friend or foe?
Often referred to as the common cold of the sexual world, the Centers for Disease Control States that HPV has infected over 79 million people worldwide. HPV is both widespread and highly contagious, and thrives on porous skin in the throat, anal cavity, cervix, and tongue. This makes it extremely difficult to test and eradicate worldwide.
Risk factors for HPV are a weakened immune system, smoking, poor diet and sleep disorders. Thought to cause over 70% of cervical cancers that World health organization states that HPV has more than 100 types and has one of the most well-known defense mechanisms: vaccination.
For decades, researchers believed that marijuana played a role in HPV-related cervical cancer. However, a 2010 study, published in the US National Library of Medicine, found that marijuana did not cause cervical cancer.
Understanding the infectivity of HPV
While they were previously thought to be contracted only through sexual behavior, studies over the past two decades have shown that HPV can live on surfaces. A study from 2002 published in the British Medical Journal found that HPV DNA can live in a clinical setting without skin-to-skin contact. A more recent and more in-depth study presented in Taylor & Francis Onlinefound that when comparing the cattle Papillomavirus with human papillomavirus both showed a remarkable ability to maintain 50% infectivity at room temperature after 3 days.
In addition, in 2014 Penn State did some research Previous results indicated that HPV was persistent on surfaces and could be transmitted unless a specific method of cleaning instruments (autoclaving) or bleaching was in place. Although HPV is still referred to as a “sexually transmitted infection,” it doesn’t seem like it is.
Craig Meyers, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Penn State College of Medicine, stated: “Chemical disinfectants used in hospitals and other health care facilities have absolutely no effect on killing the human papillomavirus. Failure to use bleach or an autoclave in the hospital will not kill the human papillomavirus and there is a potential for spread of HPV from hospital-acquired or instrumented or tool infection. “
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The role of THC in HPV
A recent study published by Joseph A. Califano III, MD found an interesting comparison between HPV and THC. He shared in one Report to UC San Diego Health With HPV-related head and neck cancer and marijuana use on the rise, there may be a correlation between the two. His father, Joseph A. Califano Jr., is the former Secretary of State and noted founder and chairman of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, which runs an anti-marijuana organization.
In the study, Califano III cited that THC turned on p38 MAPK (protein that responds to stress or other stimuli) and while the protein was turned on, HPV-positive head and neck cancers lost apoptosis (a form of cell death). That said, THC appeared to ignite the protein that allowed HPV to continue growing at an alarming rate. Citing the study as a “cautionary story,” Califano III is now leading a study to determine whether CBD has the same effect.
RELATED: Cannabis and HPV: A Treatment or a Cause?
Interestingly, a study published in 2016 by North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa, was found to be in direct contradiction to Caifano’s findings.
Relying on the same apoptosis method, the researchers found that CBD can be viewed as a carcinogen for cervical cancer. The data further showed that “cannabidiol instead of raw cannabis sativa extracts prevents cell growth and induces cell death in cervical cancer cell lines”. Could cannabis hurt head and neck cancer, while CBD kills cancer cells in the cervix?
RELATED: 6 Essential Facts You Must Know About HPV
Kellie Lease Engraver, MD, a gynecologist based in Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis, Minn. believes both studies highlight the importance of ongoing research. “As marijuana use increases due to legality, more studies need to be done to examine the DNA of the HPV and the effects of CBD or marijuana on each strain,” explained Stecher. “Further studies should investigate how HPV expression is changed by marijuana or its components in different tissues. We don’t have enough data to determine whether CBD or THC is helpful or harmful based on conflicting data. ”
Looking to the future and ever increasing HPV-positive cancer rates, research cannot come soon enough.