An article medically reviewed by Christina Chun, MPH and written by Adam Felman sighted by MyNewsGh.com on Medical News Today has indicated that oral sex increases the risk of throat cancer for both males and females.
Oral sex is a commonly performed act of foreplay involving the kissing or licking of the genital area to pleasure a partner. However, it is sometimes stated that the act alone can increase the risk of throat cancer. Is this really the case?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) can spread during oral sex, increasing the possibility of cancer. In the United States, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus.
Sexual health presents a range of risks, but worrying about potential health concerns can decrease intimacy between partners and, ultimately, quality of life.
While caution is always advised when it comes to protection against sexual health problems, it is important to know the facts.
This MNT Knowledge Center article will discuss the links between oral sex, HPV, and throat cancer. It will also explain the major risk factors for throat cancer.
Although smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol are the primary risk factors for oral cancer, the HPV virus may also be linked to oral cancer.
It is estimated that 35 percent of throat cancers are related to HPV infections.
HPV has been demonstrated as one of the leading risk factors for cancer of the mouth and throat, known as oropharyngeal cancer.
The infection does not directly cause oral cancer. The virus triggers changes in the infected cells. The genetic material of the virus becomes part of cancer cells, causing them to grow. This can lead to the detection of HPV in people who have cancers that were caused by other factors.
Later on, these cells can become cancerous. However, few people with an HPV infection will develop cancer. In fact, the body clears around 90 percentTrusted Source of HPV infections within 2 years.
The subtypes of HPV found in the mouth are almost all sexually transmitted, so oral sex is a probable cause.
People who smoke are less likely to be able to clear an HPV infection because smoking damages immune cells in the skin. These normally help protect against viral damage.
In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, researchers suggested that people who have oral sex with at least six different partners have a significantly higher risk of developing throat cancer.
The team recruited 100 patients who had recently been diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer, as well as a control group of 200 healthy individuals.
They found that people who had at least six oral sex partners during their lifetime were 3.4 times more likely to have throat cancer. Those with 26 or more vaginal sex partners had 3.1 times the risk of developing throat cancer.
The presence of oral HPV that could cause cancer was found in another study to be 14.9 percent in men who smoked tobacco and have had more than five oral sex partners.
Men with one of those risk factors saw a lower risk of throat cancer at 7.3 percent. Prevalence was much lower for both men (1.7 percent) and women (0.7 percent) who have had one lifetime oral sexual partner or less.
Many media outlets have represented this data poorly, framing oral sex as a direct cause of cancer.
However, the conclusions drawn from research to date are that HPV can be transmitted by oral sex and that it is linked to changes in the infected cellsTrusted Source.