A new study has oral sex linked to cancer in men in a way that was not yet believed was possible for their gender. However, it seems that there’s not only a high risk, it’s even higher than it is for women.
- HPV has been linked to neck and head cancer, transmitted through oral sex to men
- HPV is a common STD, affecting 80% of sexually active women and 90% of sexually active men
- The infection can pass on its own, but can also result in serious complications, such as cancer
- The cases of HPV rose by 225% in the last 20 years
According the study, HPV is a condition spreading rapidly that now affects 80% of sexually active women and 90% of sexually active men throughout the United States. It’s one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that was usually found in women after vaginal sex. More often, the virus can remain in the body for several years, but it’s usually cleared by the immune system. However, sometimes, it lingers and causes damage to the mouth and throat.
In the more unfortunate cases, for those in vulnerable situations, it may even lead to neck or head cancer.
The team of researchers identified almost 170 types of HPV, among which 40 of them are typically transmitted through sexual contact. Some manifest with skin warts, such as HPV 6 and HPV 11. Others, however, may present with more permanent effects. A persistent infection with one of the harshest strains of the virus can lead to precancerous lesions and invasive cancer. In fact, almost all cervical cancers are linked to an HPV infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that the number of HPV cases in the U.S. have risen by 225% in the last 20 years. This was linked to more cases of head and neck cancers, though the precise cause is not very well known. It could be due to teenagers engaging more often in oral sex without being vaccinated. It’s not an STD that can be avoided through contraceptives.
The infection can be indeed prevented through a vaccine, but here lies the problem. Most who actually engage in sexual contact have passed the “age of prevention”.
While this has been indeed believed to be a major problem for women, researchers found that it’s even more dire for men. In fact, those most commonly infected with HPV are middle-aged white men who have had several sexual partners and performed oral sex. According to lead author of the study, Gypsyamber D’Souza, from Johns Hopkins University, men are not only more likely to get infected, but they’re also much less likely to clear the virus by themselves.
That means that their bodies cannot fight the infection as well as a woman’s. This drastically increases their risk of developing cancer due to the HPV virus. And, the more sexual partners they have, the higher the risk. The conclusion was drawn after comparing men and women who had had the same number of sexual partners throughout their lives.
According to researchers, oral sex raises the risk of head and neck cancer by 22%. The CDC cautions parents to vaccinate their teenage children against the infection, and the same for adults under the age of 26 years old. It can heal itself or be prevented. However, it may also result in unfortunate complications.
Image source: telegraph.co.uk