Oral sex linked to throat cancer
Mouth-to-mouth HPV transmission remains possible
Also In The News
Chelsea and Manchester United played out a lacklustre 0-0 draw ten days before they meet in the FA Cup final having fielded weakened sides for the encounter at Stamford Bridge.
Thursday, 10, May 2007 08:19
Having oral sex with multiple partners increases the risk of developing throat cancer in both men and women, a new study has shown.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Centre have found what they describe as conclusive evidence that the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes some throat cancers.
Oral HPV infection is the strongest risk factor for the disease, regardless of whether people smoke or drink alcohol.
Oral sex, both fellatio and cunnilingus, was found to be the main form of sexual activity to transmit HPV orally, although mouth-to-mouth transmission remains possible.
Consistent condom use may reduce the risk of the virus, the study revealed.
Dr Maura Gillison studied 100 men and women newly diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer (located in the tonsils, back of tongue and throat). She found that those who had evidence of prior HPV infection were 32 times more likely to develop the cancer.
Participants who reported having more than six oral-sex partners in a lifetime were 8.6 times more likely to develop the HPV-linked cancer.
Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr Gillison urged caution over the findings however.
"People should be reassured that oropharyngeal cancer is relatively uncommon, and the overwhelming majority of people with an oral HPV infection probably will not get throat cancer," she said.
According to Cancer Research there are almost 4,700 cases of oral cancer diagnosed in the UK every year.