A new study suggests that the human papillomavirus (HPV), one of the most common sexually transmitted viruses in the U.S., may also cause cardiovascular disease.
HPV is known to cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, penis, anus and throat, but the new study — published on Monday in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology — is the first to connect the virus to heart disease.
These findings also suggest that the HPV vaccine could potentially prevent heart disease, KBIO radio reports.
Researchers led by Dr. Kenichi Fujise, a cardiologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, analyzed data from nearly 2,500 women, aged 20 to 59.
Of those women, almost 45 percent carried some form of HPV and about 23 percent had the cancer-causing strains of the virus, USA Today reports.
The researchers found a strong association between cancer-causing HPV strains and heart disease.
Criticism of the study included that it looked only at women’s information at one point in time and did not show a cause-and-effect relationship.
Researchers also depended on HPV samples collected by women themselves.
Dr. Lori Mosca, director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, told The New York Times that while the argument for a link between HPV and Heart disease was "highly plausible and deserves further investigation,” plausibility is not enough.
Mosca, according to The New York Times interpretation, said that:
Finding an association does not even tell which condition came first. In theory, heart disease could have come first and made the women more vulnerable to HPV. Or some other unknown factor could have predisposed some women to both HPV and heart disease.