A new study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that too many sexual partners may increase the risk of cancer, and for women, more sexual partners are also associated with an increased risk of chronic disease. Few studies have looked at the potential impact of the number of sexual partners on health problems. To try to fill this knowledge gap, the researchers used information gathered for the UK’s Longitudinal Study on Ageing (ELSA).
The researchers asked 7,079 participants about sexual partners in 2012-2013. Of these, 5,722 (2,537 men and 3,185 women) provided complete data and were grouped into 0-1, 2-4, 5-9 and 10 or more sexual partners.
Participants were also asked to assess their health status, including: age; race; marital status; household income in addition to pensions; lifestyle (smoking, alcohol, physical activity), and depressive symptoms.
The average age of the participants was 64, and about three-quarters were married. Among male subjects, about 28.5% reported 0-1 sexual partners, 29% 2-4, 20% 5-9, 22% had 10 or more sexual partners, and among female subjects, about 41% had 0-1 sexual partners, 35.5% had 2-4 and 16% there are 5-9 people, and 8% have 10 or more sexual partners.
In both sexes, the number of sexual partners is related to age, singleness, wealth and wealth. Those who reported a higher number of sexual partners were more likely to smoke, drink more frequently, and take more intense physical activity each week.
When combined with all the data analysis, there was a statistically significant correlation between the number of lifelong sexual partners in both sexes and the risk of cancer diagnosis. Women who reported having 10 or more sexual partners were 91 percent more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than those who reported 0-1 lifelong sexual partners.
Among men, men who reported 2-4 lifelong sexual partners were 57 percent more likely to develop cancer than men who reported 0-1. Those who reported 10 or more were 69 percent more likely to be diagnosed with cancer.
The researchers also found that the number of sexual partners in men was not associated with the reported chronic illness. But in women, the number of sexual partners is associated with chronic illness. Women who reported 5-9 or more lifelong sexual partners were 64 percent more likely to develop chronic diseases than those who reported 0-1.
Although this is an observational study, the cause cannot be determined. But the researchers believe the findings are consistent with previous findings that sexually transmitted infections are linked to the occurrence of several types of cancer and hepatitis.
The researchers say that if further research can certainly ascertain the causal link between the number of partners and subsequent health conditions, asking for the number of sexual partners may help complement existing cancer screening programs and help identify those at risk.