Intense oral sex increases risk of mouth and throat cancer

The timing and intensity of oral sex may impact the risk of throat and mouth cancerThe timing and intensity of oral sex may impact the risk of throat and mouth cancer.

This is according to a new study published in CANCER, the journal of the American Cancer Society.

The study finds that having more than 10 prior oral sexual partners is linked to a 4.3 times greater chance of developing HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer.

Additionally, it reveals that having oral sex at a younger age and with more partners in a shorter time period – also known as oral sex intensity – increases the risk of HPV-related cancer in the throat and mouth.

Extramarital sex

The data was collected by Dr Virginia Drake of Johns Hopkins University. She asked participants with and without HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer to complete a behavioural survey.

It also found that those who had older sexual partners when they were young were more likely to be diagnosed with the disease. Similar conclusions were also drawn from those who participate in extramarital sex.

‘Our study builds on previous research. It demonstrates that it is not only the number of oral sexual partners, but also other factors not previously appreciated that contribute to the risk of exposure to HPV orally and subsequent HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer,’ said Dr Drake.

‘The incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer also continues to rise in the United States. Our study offers a contemporary evaluation of risk factors for this disease. We have uncovered additional nuances of how and why some people may develop this cancer. As a result, this may help identify those at greater risk.’

Check for symptoms

This comes as a top cancer surgeon urges the UK public to get mouth ulcers checked.

Professor Richard Shaw is a head and neck cancer surgeon at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

He is calling on the public to act fast if they notice any symptoms as a new study suggests patients undergoing surgery for head and neck cancers are at no extra risk when it comes to COVID-19 transmission.

Symptoms include neck lumps, mouth ulcers, mouth or throat lumps, difficulty swallowing and a hoarse voice.

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