Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Watch Your Mouth

ORAL-SEX CANCER RISK
By LEELA de KRETSER
New York Post
May 11, 2007 --

Heads up - having oral sex with more than six people over a lifetime significantly increases the chance of getting throat cancer, a shocking
new study has found.

The risk is much greater to a provider of oral pleasure than to a smoker or drinker, according to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine
yesterday.

Scientists at John Hopkins' Kimmel Cancer Center discovered the link while researching whether human papillomavirus (HPV) causes oropharyngeal cancer, a
disease that affects the tonsils, back of the tongue and throat.

In a study of 100 people with the disease, cancer expert Dr. Maura Gillison discovered that those who previously had contracted an HPV infection were 32
times more likely to develop the cancer.

Participants who reported having more than six oral sex partners over their lifetime were 8.6 times more likely to develop the HPV-linked cancer, Gillison
said.

That compares with a threefold risk of developing throat cancer for smokers, and a 21/2-times risk increase for drinkers.

Surprisingly, Gillison said the research found no added risk for HPV carriers who smoke and drink alcohol in developing the disease.

"It's the virus that drives the cancer," she said. "Since HPV has already disrupted the cell enough to steer its change to cancer, then tobacco and alcohol
use may have no further impact."

Oral sex is the main mode of transmitting an oral HPV infection, she said.

While most HPV infections clear without a person showing symptoms, a small percentage of patients who get the virus can develop various forms of cancer,
including those not necessarily related to the throat.

Gillison said HPV is equally transmitted between men and women. Of the 100 people included in her study, only 14 were women.

The doctor said a new FDA-approved vaccine can prevent girls and young women from getting HPV - but the inoculation has not yet been proven to help males.

Women are screened for HPV when they undergo a Pap smear for cervical-cancer screening, she noted, but doctors do not have methods to look for oral cancers.
The only way the disease can be picked up is through visual inspection, most often by a dentist.

While Gillison said it was too early to recommend HPV detection in oral cancer screening, she pointed out that HPV-linked oral cancers have been on the
rise for more than two decades.

She said she expects HPV-associated cancers will eventually outpace those caused by tobacco and alcohol use, which currently cause two-thirds of oropharyngeal,
oral cavity and pharynx cancers in the United States.

About 11,000 people nationally have been affected by those three diseases.

4 comments:

DivineLavender said...

HPV is second common STI...and a lot of women are getting it...and not understanding that it could lead to gential warts and cervical cancer. Luckily some of us can get the HPV vaccine that can protect us against a number of strings of HPV. It is a series of three shots over six months.

I am not sure that oral sex and cancer...I haven't read the study but I just remember that correlations are difference than direct causes.

-DivineLavender

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Noelli Center said...

This is interesting, as a physician I was not aware of the link , but I intend to review the iterrature and articles

www.noellicenter.com