March 10, 2011

Oral Sex Linked to Throat Cancer

(Ivanhoe Newswire) --Oral Sex. It's been linked to oral, head and neck cancer, but a new report shows it may be causing more throat cancer than tobacco.

HPV (or human papillomavirus) is a virus passed on through oral sex. Researchers studying the virus say that HPV causes 64 percent of oropharynxl cancers in the U.S. Scientists say HPV is now thought to be the main cause of throat cancer in people under 50 years old.

The study was presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting in February. Researchers at Ohio State University say the more oral sex someone has had, and the more partners they've had, the greater their risk of getting these cancers, which develop in the middle part of the throat.

"An  individual who has six or more lifetime partners "” on whom they've performed oral sex "“ has an eightfold increase in risk compared to someone who has never performed oral sex," Dr. Maura Gillison of Ohio State University was quoted as saying.

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, about 37,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with oral cancer in 2010.  Over the past five years, health officials have been urging parents to make sure their daughters are vaccinated against HPV to help prevent cervical cancer. But these new results suggest that young men could also benefit from vaccination because the recent rise in oropharynxl cancer is predominantly among young, white men.

Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, in San Francisco suggests this report may be especially important for teens. She studied 600 teenagers over 10 years and found that oral sex is much more common than vaginal sex and that many teens don't consider oral sex to be sex.

Researchers cannot say definitively that the vaccines used to fight HPV would prevent throat cancer, but they think it could reduce risks.

SOURCE: American Association for the Advancement of Science conference, February 2011