A new cancer study has found that the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer also increases the risk of certain types of throat cancer among people infected through oral sex.
According to the study unprotected oral sex is one of the major causes of a disease often associated with smoking and alcohol abuse.
Maura L. Gillison, an assistant professor of oncology and epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, conducted the study.
It involved 100 participants with throat cancer and 200 without it.
She concluded that those with the human papilloma virus (HPV) were 32 times as likely to develop one form of oral cancer than those free of the virus.
“It makes it absolutely clear that oral HPV infection is a risk factor,” she said about the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The conclusion based on the test is that the more oral-sex partners a person has, the greater the risk of contracting oral cancers, which are located in the tonsils, back of the tongue and throat.
The new findings could explain the rise of oral cancer over the recent years especially in younger generations who typically smoke and drink less.
The findings provide new evidence that contradicts widespread misconceptions about oral sex.
“Many adolescents, and adults too, say they engage in oral sex as a less risky type of sex,” Mark A. Schuster of Rand Corp. and UCLA, told the Washington Post.
“What this article and others show is you absolutely can get serious sexually transmitted diseases through oral sex.”
The study could also boast support for a wide spread use of a new vaccine that would help prevent HPV.
Dr. Gillison added:
“People should be reassured that oral cancer is relatively uncommon, and the majority of people with oral HPV infection probably will not get throat cancer.”
There was no conclusion on whether kissing poses any risks on spreading HPV, but “it is not out of the realm of possibility,” Gillison said.
Currently there is no screening test for oral cancer, which is usually detected by sores in the mouth that will not heal.
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