A HEALTH expert has warned women against falling prey to con artists reportedly selling concoctions of unscientifically proven herbal drugs and creams which they claim to be helpful in restoring “virginity”, saying most of those drugs could expose them to cervical cancer.
Zimbabwe’s first female oncologist Anna Nyakabau said women should desist from administering untested substances and objects into their private parts as this increases the risk of acquiring the virus that leads to cervical cancer.
“The insertion of foreign products in the vagina may increase the risk of infection and cause scarring and narrowing of the vaginal passage,” she said.
“This increases the risk of human papilloma virus (HPV) infection which is the main cause of cervical cancer and HIV infection which increases the risk of HPV infection due to its immune suppressive effects.”
This follows reports that women were flocking to such places as Mupedzanhamo in Mbare where a variety of sex enhancing “drugs” and “herbal creams” are said to be readily available at between $5 and $20 depending on the size of the bottle and perceived effectiveness of the product.
HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer is sexually transmitted and HPV types 16 and 18 are said to cause about 70% of cases of cervical cancer.
“There is also a link between becoming sexually active at a young age and a higher risk of cervical cancer.
“However, if a woman develops cervical cancer, it does not mean she had several sexual partners, or became sexually active earlier than most other females,” Nyakabau said.
“Smoking increases the risk of developing many cancers, including cervical cancer.”
She said women with weakened immune systems such as those with HIV and Aids, or transplant recipients taking immune-suppressive medications were also at high risk of developing cervical cancer.
“Studies in several countries have revealed that women in deprived areas have significantly higher rates of cervical cancer, compared to women who live in other areas.
“This may be due to differences in access to screening,” she added.