Oral sex: Causing throat cancer?
You've heard that HPV can cause cervical cancer and genital warts. However, a new study reveals there's a bigger concern, especially if you like to head "downtown."
HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, about 20 million Americans have. It can sometimes lead to cervical cancer in women. It can also sometimes lead to, ahem, throat cancer (come on, we don't really need to spell it out for you, do we?)
If that wasn't enough cheery news for you, here's some more: the number of people getting diagnosed with throat cancer as a result of HPV is rapidly on the rise, according to researchers at Ohio State University.
Cases of HPV-related oral cancer tripled from 1988 to 2004, and researchers say it could be due to changes in sexual behavior, prompting the virus more easily.
"The whole relationship between HPV-related head and neck cancer completely changes our ideas of who is at risk, how to treat the cancer, the prognostics of the cancer, and prevention," said Maura Gillison, who led the study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Oral cancer tissue from 271 patients was collected and examined over a 20-year period. Oropharyngeal, a specific type of cancer, originates in the back of the tongue, the soft part of the roof of the mouth, the tonsils, or the side of the throat.
In case you haven't yet put two and two together, that cancer could be a direct result of giving oral sex.
"We believe sexual habits have changed, and that there is an increase in sexual activity earlier on in life, with an exchange of many more sex partners in general," she wrote in an email to Reuters Health.
Luckily, the HPV-positive form of the cancer sometimes has a better prognosis, according to researchers, but still-- this is why they make flavored condoms, people!