Oral sex is contributing to a rise in throat cancer cases caused by HPV in the United States. Learn more about the risk factors, statistics, and prevention methods in this article.
Oral Sex and Throat Cancer:
Oral sex is contributing to a rise in throat cancer cases in the United States, according to a doctor from the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences at the University of Birmingham. The increase in human papillomavirus (HPV)-linked oropharyngeal cancer, a type of throat cancer, is described as an “epidemic.”
II. HPV as the Main Culprit
Hisham Mehanna, the professor mentioned above, identifies HPV as the main risk factor for oropharyngeal cancer. The more sexual partners a person has, especially through oral sex, the higher the risk of developing throat cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, the cases of HPV-linked oropharyngeal cancer increased by 1.3% in women and 2.8% in men annually from 2015 to 2019. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 70% of oropharyngeal cancers in the US are caused by HPV infection.
IV. Multiple Sexual Partners Increase Risk
Previous studies have shown that having multiple sexual partners can increase the risk of contracting HPV and developing mouth or throat cancer. In 2021, researchers discovered that individuals with 10 or more oral sex partners were more than four times more likely to develop HPV-related mouth and throat cancers.
V. Teenage Oral Sex
According to the CDC, 41% of teenagers aged 15 to 19 participate in oral sex, contributing to the increase in throat cancer cases. Young people aged 15 to 24 were responsible for nearly half of the 26 million new sexually transmitted disease infections in 2018.
VI. HPV as a Common STI
HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), affecting an estimated 42 million Americans. While most people clear the virus on their own with no complications, it can lead to cervical or oropharyngeal cancers in some cases.
VII. HPV Vaccine and Prevention
The HPV vaccine is aimed at preventing reproductive cancers, but the CDC also notes that it provides protection against the strains of the virus that cause oropharyngeal cancer. In the US, the current guidance advises 11- and 12-year-olds to receive two doses of the HPV vaccine, but individuals from the ages of 9 to 26 are approved to receive it. A UK study also discovered that a female-only vaccine regimen could significantly reduce HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers.
The rise in throat cancer cases caused by HPV linked to oral sex is alarming. While there is no foolproof prevention method, receiving the HPV vaccine can significantly reduce the risk of contracting the virus and developing oropharyngeal cancer.