Association between serum vitamin C and HPV infection in American women: a cross-sectional study

BMC Womens Health. 2022 Oct 5;22(1):404. doi: 10.1186/s12905-022-01993-7.


Background: Evidence regarding the relationship between serum vitamin C levels and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is limited. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate whether serum vitamin C levels are independently associated with HPV infection.

Methods: Data for this cross-sectional study were obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2006. A total of 2174 women, 18-59 years of age, were enrolled in this study. The associations between serum vitamin C levels (continuous and categorical forms) and cervicovaginal HPV infection were estimated using weighted logistic regression.

Results: The adjusted binary logistic regression showed that serum vitamin C was not associated with the risk of HPV infection after adjusting for age, race, poverty income ratio, alcohol consumption, smoking, body mass index, education, and health condition (odds ratio [OR] 0.998, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.994-1.001). Serum vitamin C levels were converted from a continuous variable to a categorical variable for the analysis. Compared with the vitamin C deficiency and hypovitaminosis groups, there was a negative correlation between vitamin C and HPV infection when vitamin C was adequate (OR 0.7, 95% CI: 0.52-0.94); however, when the serum vitamin C level was inadequate and saturated, this negative correlation was weaker or nonexistent (OR 0.76, 95% CI 0.56-1.03 and OR 0.76, 95% CI 0.55-1.04, respectively). A nonlinear relationship was detected between vitamin C level and HPV infection. Furthermore, we performed subgroup analysis of different models and found that serum vitamin C concentration was negatively associated with HPV infection in women ≥ 25 years of age; however, in women < 25 years of age, serum vitamin C levels were not associated with HPV infection.

Conclusion: The results from this United States nationally representative sample supported the hypothesis that there was a U-shaped relationship between serum vitamin C levels and HPV infection. Future studies are warranted to assess the association between vitamin C and HPV persistence and clarify the underlying mechanisms of these associations.

Keywords: HPV; Human papillomavirus; NHANES; Vitamin C.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Odds Ratio
  • Papillomavirus Infections*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vitamins


  • Vitamins