OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to investigate the association of smoking and exfoliation of cervicovaginal epithelial cells while controlling for other factors that may potentially influence cell exfoliation (e.g., presence of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or koilocytes, the use of oral contraceptives, age, and the phase of the menstrual cycle). STUDY DESIGN: Cervicovaginal lavage specimens and epidemiologic questionnaires were obtained with informed consent from 190 women. The cervicovaginal lavage samples were processed to separate other contaminants. The number of squamous epithelial cells counted was expressed as cells per milliliter of lavage. RESULTS: Multiple linear regression analysis revealed that the number of exfoliated epithelial cells was significantly higher in smokers (p < 0.01) and also in women with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (p < 0.05). The other studied variables had no detectable effect. CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that smoking or the presence of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia may induce an acceleration in the exfoliation of cervicovaginal epithelial cells. This may alter cell maturation and may be a factor in the oncogenic process.
- Cigarette smoking
- cell count
- cervical cancer risk factors
- cervical intraepithelial neoplasia
- lavage technique