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Oral sex linked to rise in throat cancer cases, says University of Birmingham Professor

Posted: Friday, April 28, 2023. 1:32 pm CST.

By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: According to Dr. Hisham Mehanna, a Professor at the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences at the University of Birmingham, oral sex is a leading cause of throat cancer. People who have had six or more oral sex partners in their lifetime are 8.5 times more likely to develop oropharyngeal cancer, which is a type of throat cancer. This is believed to be a major factor contributing to the rise of throat cancer cases in the United States.

Dr. Mehanna notes that there is a continued upward trend in oropharyngeal cancer in both the United States and the UK. He emphasizes that the number of lifetime sexual partners, particularly when it comes to oral sex, is the primary risk factor for this type of cancer.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 70% of oropharyngeal cancers in the United States are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). In fact, the American Cancer Society has found that cases of oropharyngeal cancer linked to HPV have been increasing by 1.3% yearly in women and by 2.8% yearly in men between 2015 and 2019.

It’s important to note that practicing safe sex, including using condoms or dental dams during oral sex, can help reduce the risk of contracting HPV and developing oropharyngeal cancer. Regular testing for HPV and getting vaccinated against it can also be beneficial. It’s crucial to prioritize sexual health and talk to a healthcare provider about any concerns or questions regarding HPV and throat cancer.

 

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