Ohio State Studies Whether Stress Affects HPV Vaccine Response

October 25, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State University cancer researchers are studying whether stress impacts how the body's immune system responds to the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

The team of investigators at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) is working with researchers from the University of Michigan to better understand why cervical cancer rates are higher in Appalachian Ohio and West Virginia. This study is one of four projects funded by a five year, $10 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help reduce cancer health disparities in Appalachia.

"We have found higher rates of cervical HPV in Appalachian Ohio women, higher rates of abnormal cervical cells, and very high rates of psychological stress compared to urban and suburban women," says Electra Paskett, associate director for population sciences at OSUCCC-James. "It is known that stress can diminish the immune response to other vaccines, so we want to determine if that's the case for the HPV vaccine as well."

This study is enrolling women, ages 18-26, who live in southeast Ohio or bordering counties in West Virginia and who have not yet received the HPV vaccine. Participants will get the vaccine and will need to visit one of five clinics in the region four times over a one year period to answer questions and provide blood and cervical tissue samples.

HPV is a common sexually-transmitted virus known to cause some types of cancer, including cervical, vaginal and oral cancers. At least half of all people who are sexually active will have HPV at some time in their lives, although most show no symptoms and don't know they have it. Vaccines can protect against the types of HPV that cause cancers and they are approved for people ages 9-26.

Paskett's team of investigators includes Dr. Patrick Fahey at Ohio State and Dr. Mack Ruffin of the University of Michigan.

For additional information on the study, go to http://careproject3.osu.edu/ or call 1-877-304-2273.

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute strives to create a cancer-free world by integrating scientific research with excellence in education and patient-centered care, a strategy that leads to better methods of prevention, detection and treatment. Ohio State is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and one of only seven centers funded by the NCI to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials. The NCI recently rated Ohio State's cancer program as "exceptional," the highest rating given by NCI survey teams. As the cancer program's 210-bed adult patient-care component, The James is a "Top Hospital" as named by the Leapfrog Group and one of the top 20 cancer hospitals in the nation as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

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Contact: Marti Leitch, OSU Medical Center Public Affairs and Media Relations, 614-293-3737 or Marti.Leitch@osumc.edu

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