Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Connection Between Throat Cancer and Oral Sex

One thing many people don't realize is that dentists check for more than cavities during a regular check-up.

They also check for signs of cancer, including cancers of the tongue, jaw, lips, and throat. In fact, according to the Mouth Cancer Foundation:

Oral and pharyngeal cancer is the sixth most common malignancy reported worldwide and one with high mortality ratios among all malignancies.

Even worse, people also don't understand the connection between oral sex and one's oral health. Many people mistakenly believe oral sex is "safe" sex because one can't get pregnant or because the risk of transfering a sexually transmitted disease is lowered.

In fact, in a study found in the May 10, 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers noted that people who had one to five oral sex partners doubled their risk for throat cancer.

Those who had more than five increased their risk by 250%.

Even more disturbing, the researchers believe oral sex transmits the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the same virus that causes cervical cancer in women.

According to a new CDC study, 1 in 4 U.S. women ages 14 - 59 have HPV.

With HPV rates so high, it behooves all sexually active men and women to wear condoms, even when performing oral sex.

And, should you or your partner exhibit any type of sore or lump anywhere in the mouth or on the tongue that doesn't heal within three weeks, contact your dentist or medical professional immediately.


Maura said...

As a young woman I recently had the HPV vaccine (series of 3 shots). My Doctor explained that, in the future, the vaccine will be available to older women. Researchers are planning to market the vaccine to men (since men carry and transmit HPV). With new findings suggesting that HPV could be the cause of oral cancer, it makes even more sense to vaccinate everyone - male or female!

Helaine Smith, DMD said...

Maura, I agree with you. I'm glad you had the vaccine!

Jon Knoll said...

I don't believe there's an effective HPV vaccine for men. If there is, I'd like to know more about it.