January 26, 2012

HPV More Common In Men Than Women

According to a new study, oral infections with the human papillomavirus (HPV) are more common in men than women.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said that while the viruses can be found in saliva, HPV appears to be mostly spread through sex.

Study author Maura Gillison, a professor at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center said the virus can cause cancers at the back of the throat, tonsils and base of the tongue.  Patients infected with oral HPV type 16 have a 14 times higher risk of developing one of these cancers, according to the study.

The researchers studied 5,579 Americans between the ages 14 and 69 and found that 7 percent of Americans have a current oral infection with HPV.

According to the study, 10.1 percent of men are infected with HPV and only 3.6 percent of women have contracted the virus. Gillison said the study does not explain why HPV is more common in men.

The researchers found that the percentage of HPV-related throat cancers grew from 16 percent in 1984 through 1988 to 72 percent in 2000 through 2004.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, while 7,100 people a year develop HPV-related throat cancers.

Gillison said that if this trend continues, throat cancers will overtake cervical caners as the leading cause of HPV-related tumors by 2020.

"This study of oral HPV infection is the critical first step toward developing potential oropharyngeal cancer prevention strategies," Gillison said in a press release.

"This is clearly important because HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer is poised to overtake cervical cancer as the leading type of HPV-caused cancers in the U.S. And, we currently do not have another means by which to prevent or detect these cancers early."


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