Dietary Antioxidant Intake and Human Papillomavirus Infection: Evidence from a Cross-Sectional Study in Italy.

Barchitta M et al. 

 2020 May 12;12(5). pii: E1384


Several lines of evidence suggested that antioxidants might play a protective role against high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) infection and cervical cancer. However, the effect of combined intake of antioxidants has not been investigated thus far. The current cross-sectional study aimed to understand the relationship between dietary antioxidant intake and the risk of high-risk HPV (hrHPV) infection among 251 Italian women with normal cervical cytology. Women were tested for hrHPV using the Digene HC2 HPV DNA Test. Dietary antioxidant intakes were assessed using a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire, and a Composite Dietary Antioxidant Index (CDAI) was constructed on the basis of zinc, selenium, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoid, and flavonoid intake. Logistic regression analysis was used to assess odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) for the associations of antioxidant intakes or CDAI with hrHPV status, adjusting for age, smoking status, body mass index, parity, educational level, marital status, and use of multivitamins and oral contraceptives. We first observed that hrHPV-positive women (n = 84) reported lower intake of zinc, manganese, and vitamins A and C than non-infected women. Specifically, we found a negative association between dietary intake of zinc and hrHPV-positive status when all antioxidants were considered simultaneously (OR = 0.46; 95% CI = 0.27-0.80; p = 0.006). With respect to cumulative dietary antioxidant intake, we demonstrated that women with high CDAI (third tertile) had lower odds of being hrHPV-positive than those with low CDAI (first tertile) (OR = 0.39; 95% CI = 0.18-0.85; p = 0.018). To our knowledge, this is the first study demonstrating that a diet based on the combined intake of nutrients with antioxidant properties might reduce the risk of hrHPV infection. However, further research is needed to understand whether dietary antioxidant intake is associated with hrHPV infection or its persistence.

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