According to a new study, women suffering from mental illness have twice the chance of developing cervical cancer since they are less likely to undergo smear examinations. The observational study, conducted at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet and published in The Lancet, included over four million women born between 1940 and 1995. The researchers compared women who had been diagnosed by a specialist with mental illness, neuropsychiatric disability, or substance abuse to women who had not received these diagnoses. The risk of cervical cancer and precancerous cervical lesions was then estimated, as was their participation in screening programmes.
Our study revealed a high-risk population that requires particular attention if we are to succeed in eliminating cervical cancer, says Kejia Hu, a postdoc researcher at Karolinska Institutet’s Institute of Environmental Medicine. She went on to say that the findings show that women with these illnesses participate less frequently in screening programmes at the same time as they have a greater frequency of cervical lesions. As a result, they have twice the risk of acquiring cervical cancer. All disorders were associated with an increased risk, but substance dependence had the strongest link. According to the study, women suffering from mental illnesses should be made more aware of the importance of attending gynaecological exams.
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