Couples who remain loyal to each other throughout their lives, have become a scarce commodity. However, it also appears that this entails an important health benefit. According to a new study, people who share the sheets with 10 or more people are much more likely to get cancer than those who stick to none or 1 bed partner.
The study, set up by Anglia Ruskin University and some experts from Austria, Turkey, Canada and Italy, looked at the data of 5,722 UK residents aged 50+. It showed that women who shared the sheets with 10 or more partners were 91% more likely to develop cancer later in life than women who had no or only 1 bed partner. The difference was slightly smaller for the men who participated in the study. For example, those who reported 10 or more bed partners were 69% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer.
The scientists themselves gave no reason for the link, but referred to older studies. “Previous research has shown that certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can cause different types of cancer,” says co-author Lee Smith. That is also confirmed by oncologist and professor Sylvie Rottey of the UZ. “For tumors linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV), such as certain head and neck tumors, it has been shown that there is a link with the number of sexual partners,” says Rottey. “And the more partners, the greater the chance of HPV infection, which could possibly lead to cancer.”
Smoking and alcohol
But the researchers also noted that people with the most bed partners smoked more often and drank more alcohol, which may have increased their cancer risk. Oncologist Rottey points out that our behavior between the sheets is just one of the factors that can influence the development of tumors. “For example, a lot of smoking, unhealthy eating and not enough exercise also play a role.”
The study, published in BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, also found that women who reported more than 5 sexual partners were 64% more likely to have a chronic condition than those who said they had none or none. The researchers found no connection with the men.
“This gender difference is very unexpected. After all, on average men have just more sexual partners than women, and women are screened more often for STDs, which means they normally experience less negative health problems in the long term,” the scientists said. Further research is therefore needed to find out where that difference between men and women comes from.
So, do we have to be celibate? According to the researchers, that is not necessary either. After all, they added that sexual intercourse offers both physical and mental benefits, and that they do not outweigh the long-term risks.