Jennifer Richards | Contributing Writer | Monday, 25 January 2016

New Study Finds Oral Sex Increases Risk of Head And Neck Cancers

New Study Finds Oral Sex Increases Risk of Head And Neck Cancers

The Debrief: A study of almost 97,000 people reveals oral sex may cause head and neck cancers to become the main cancer caused by HPV

Oral sex can be a pretty wonderful thing. It’s often a great way to get a woman to orgasm, and has even been linked with reducing stress. That's the good news. The not-so-great news? Apparently types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) found in the mouth are often transmitted by oral sex. These HPV infections can then be linked with cancer, as shown in recent research.

Dr Illir Agalliu and his colleagues at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York have published a study looking how HPV can cause head and neck cancers. We’ve all heard this link between oral sex and cancer before, but this study has led scientists to believe that by 2020, head and neck cancer may become the main cancer caused by HPV. At the moment, HPV is mainly linked to cervical cancer, but it’s throat cancer that may be more of a problem. 

This study, published in the JAMA Oncology, analysed 96,650 participants from two other studies. These patients were examined over four years, and it was found that the people with oral HPV were 22 times more likely to develop oropharyngeal cancer compared to those who didn’t have the virus.  

This research also found that around 70% of all head and neck viruses are caused by HPV infections. These types of infections have long been seen as dangerous. There are over 100 different types of HPV, with over 13 being linked with cancer. HPV is usually caused by sexual activity, with most sexually active men and women being infected with it at some point during their lives.  But it often shows no symptoms and goes away without treatment, so no major panic needed.  

But why aren’t we talking about HPV infections more? It is one of the most common STIs. Actor Michael Doughlas has said before that he thought he had contracted his cancer though oral sex, and this study suggests he may have been on to something. Though he did later have to apologise to Catherine Zeta-Jones about the comment…..

You might also be interested in:

The Scary STI Trends You Need To Know About In 2016

Leading Oncologist Shares The 5 Best Ways For Young People To Avoid Cancer

Oral Sex Could Become The Leading Cause Of Mouth Cancer

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Tags: Sex Ed