Can oral sex lead to cancer?



When this headline popped into my in box, I thought it was some right-wing group trying to scare people into abstinence. But this is actually a medical professional writing about HPV (human papillomavirus) and how the next time you get a cold, it could be throat cancer. Scarier than anything any right-wing group could say.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 20 million people are infected with HPV and that 50% of sexually active people will eventually be infected. In the United States alone, some five million new infections occur each year.

In fact, the majority of sexually active people eventually come in contact with HPV.

Fortunately, in most cases the body mounts an immune response that eliminates the virus.

But a small portion of people infected with HPV fail to clear the virus, and a subset of those develop cancer.

Earlier studies have linked HPV with head and neck cancers.

What the present study establishes, however, is the link between certain high-risk sexual behaviors, oral HPV infection and throat cancers, regardless of other risk behaviors such as drinking and smoking.

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