Celebrity Big Brother winner and Broadway star Marissa Jaret Winokur wants you to Think About the Link® between HPV and cancer


Lisa Berry, Managing Director of External Affairs
Prevent Cancer Foundation

ALEXANDRIA, VA –Celebrity Big Brother winner and Broadway star Marissa Jaret Winokur is partnering with the Prevent Cancer Foundation® to raise awareness of the link between the human papillomavirus—also known as HPV—and cancer. Winokur is a national spokesperson for Think About the Link®, an education campaign about the connection between certain viruses and cancer.

Celebrity Big Brother is a big win for Winokur, but she won an even bigger battle in 2000 against a silent killer: cervical cancer. Just weeks before she starred in her breakout role as Tracy Turnblad for the hit Broadway musical “Hairspray,” Winokur’s health took an unexpected turn. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer following a routine Pap test at the age of 27.

More than 12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and 4,000 women in the U.S. die every year from this disease. More than 90 percent of all cervical cancers are caused by HPV, a common virus that can also cause at least six other types of cancer, including oropharyngeal (back of throat) cancer, which is currently on the rise in men.

There is a vaccine available to protect you from HPV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the HPV vaccine for all girls and boys ages 11-12, when the immune system response is strongest. Most teenagers and young adults can get “catch-up” vaccines if they miss this window. The Prevent Cancer Foundation® also recommends all women (even those who have been vaccinated) begin regular cervical cancer screening at age 21 with a Pap test every three years. Women ages 35-65 should have a Pap test combined with an HPV test every five years (preferred), or a Pap test every three years.

Winokur is now cancer-free and wants to spread the word about the importance of getting the HPV vaccine to prevent cancer.

“When I was young, the HPV vaccine wasn’t available, and neither was the HPV test,” she said. “Girls and young women today can protect themselves from cancer, but they have to know their options. That’s why I tell everyone about the link between HPV and cancer, and to get vaccinated and screened so you don’t have to go through what I did.”

To download broadcast quality versions of the Think About the Link® PSA featuring Marissa Jaret Winokur, visit the PSA Market.

About Think About the Link®
Think About the Link® is a prevention and education campaign from the Prevent Cancer Foundation® to advance awareness of the connection between certain viruses and cancer. The campaign focuses on three viruses linked to cancer: human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Think About the Link® aims to increase screening rates for the viruses, increase immunization rates for HPV and hepatitis B and raise awareness of available treatment options for hepatitis C.

About The Prevent Cancer Foundation®
The Prevent Cancer Foundation® is one of the nation’s leading voluntary health organizations and the only U.S. nonprofit focused solely on cancer prevention and early detection. Founded in 1985, the Foundation has catapulted cancer prevention to prominence and fulfills its mission through research, education, outreach and advocacy.

For more information, please visit thinkaboutthelink.org or preventcancer.org.