We hate to harsh your day, but we’ve got some serious boner-killing news on our hands here. All that oral sex you young folks are so fond of? It’s killing you.
HPV, the nasty little Human Papillomavirus that we already know is linked in a major way to cervical and anal cancers, is wreaking havoc on tongues, mouths and throats now. While neck and throat cancers for the greater population as whole are on the decline, the numbers are way up for young sexually active people.
Dr. William Lydiatt, professor and chief of head and neck surgical oncology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha weighed in on the subject:
“It’s gotten to the point now where 60 to 70 percent of all tonsil cancers in the U.S. are HPV-related” Although the link between HPV and these types of cancers is indisputable, the association with oral sex is strong but a little more speculative, experts say.
A 2007 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that younger people with head and neck cancers who tested positive for oral HPV infection were more likely to have had multiple vaginal and oral sex partners in their lifetime.
In the study, having six or more oral sex partners over a lifetime was associated with a 3.4 times higher risk for oropharyngeal cancer – cancers of the base of the tongue, back of the throat or tonsils. Having 26 or more vaginal-sex partners tripled the risk. And the association increased as the number of partners – in either category – increased.
The researchers also reported that cancers of the tonsil and base of the tongue have been increasing every year since 1973, and wrote that “widespread oral sex practices among adolescents may be a contributing factor in this increase.” The researchers concluded that in their study, oral sex was “strongly associated” with oropharyngeal cancer, but noted that they could not “rule out transmission through direct mouth-to-mouth contact” such as French kissing.
Ruh-roh. Boys and girls, get tested! Often! Mouth cancer doesn’t look sexy on ANYONE. And for goodness sake, don’t be afraid to skip the beej every now and then, and just get to know one another through actual conversation. And no, the language of love doesn’t count. This is scary!
Will the threat of mouth cancer force you to switch to chewing gum?
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