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Oral sex can cause throat cancer


People who have had more than five oral-sex partners in their lifetime are 250% more likely to have throat cancer than those who do not have oral sex, a new study suggests. The researchers believe this is because oral sex may transmit human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus implicated in the majority of cervical cancers.

The new findings should encourage people to consistently use condoms during oral sex as this could protect against HPV, the team says. Other experts say that the results provide more reason for men to receive the new HPV vaccine.

Maura Gillison at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, US, and colleagues collected blood and saliva samples from the throats of 100 patients diagnosed with cancers of the tonsils or back of the throat. The scientists also took samples from 200 healthy people for comparison.

Increasing rates of HPV infection, spread through oral sex, is largely driving the rapid rise in oropharyngeal cancers, which include tumors of the throat, tonsils, and base of the tongue, said Scott Lippman, MD, who chairs the thoracic department at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Smoking and alcohol abuse were once considered the only major risk factors for these  cancers, but this is no longer the case.

Oral Sex Is Not Safe Sex

The experts agreed that it is critical for the public to understand that oral sex doesn’t equal safe sex.
The message was unofficially promoted in the early days of the HIV epidemic and it is still widely believed by many, especially teens.
Studies suggest that teens are often unaware of the risks associated with unprotected oral sex, including the transmission of HPV, Chlamydia, and gonorrhea.

About Throat Cancer

Throat cancer often develops from squamous cells on the mucosal surfaces of the larynx, pharynx or mouth. Smoking cigarettes and drinking large quantities of alcohol can increase a person's risk for developing throat cancer. Head and neck cancers account for about 5 percent of cancers in the United States. Throat cancers usually develop around age 60, and men are 10 times more likely to develop them than women. (Men perform oral sex on the woman, and if that woman has the cancer cells in that area, the men take those into their body, which then later forms the throat cancer.)

How often does this occur ?

Oral and pharyngeal cancer is the sixth most common malignancy reported worldwide.
The incidence and mortality from oral cancer is rising in several regions of Europe, Taiwan, Japan and Australia. Every year in Europe, around 100,800 people are diagnosed with head and neck cancer and almost 40,000 die from the disease. In the USA alone, 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer each year. About 90 percent of head and neck cancers are of the squamous cell variety. Although there have been significant improvements in chemotherapy and surgical techniques, the disease is often particularly challenging to treat since most patients present with advanced disease, have secondary tumors and suffer from other co-morbidities. Unfortunately 5-year survival rate has not improved (50% overall) for the last few decades except in specialized cancer centers.


Source of information : WebMD, MayoClinic,  Mouth Cancer Foundation 



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