Having this many sexual partners could lead to increased risk of cancer

What's your number?
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  • People’s number of sexual partners have long been a hot topic of discussion.

    The “what’s your number” chat has taken place over many a booze-filled drinks night, prosecco-fuelled sleepover and sweaty locker room catch up.

    And while some might use their number to show off to their friends, while others might be slightly ashamed of theirs, there are those who don’t think the number matters.

    But it turns out, it really does.

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    Because a study has now discovered that your number of sexual partners can affect your risk of developing cancer.

    Researchers from the Anglia Ruskin University have found that having more than 10 sexual partners could lead to an increased risk of developing cancer.

    In a joint study between the university and researchers in Austria, Canada, Italy and Turkey, which was published in BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, a significant association between number of sexual partners and risk of cancer diagnosis was discovered.

    number sexual partners increased risk cancer

    Researchers found a link between number of sexual partners and risk of developing cancer in both men and women (Credit: Getty)

    The study, which found links in both men and women, looked at 5,722 participants in England aged 50 and over.

    It found that woman who had had 10 or more sexual partners of their lifetime were 91 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than woman who had just one or no sexual partners.

    This was echoed with the men in the study, with men who had had two to four sexual partners 57 per cent more likely to develop the condition than those who had had one or none.

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    And men who had had 10 or more partners were 69 per cent more likely to be diagnosed.

    “Previous research has shown that specific STIs (sexually transmitted infections) may lead to several cancers,” study coauthor Lee Smith, a reader at the Anglia Ruskin University, told Reuters.

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    “The finding that the number of lifetime sexual partners is associated with limiting long-standing illness in women and not men should be noted,” said study authors.

    “This gender difference is interesting, but an explanation is elusive, especially when men have a greater number of lifetime sexual partners than women, as shown in this study, and women are more likely to seek medical screening for STIs and are thus less likely to experience negative long-term health complications.”