Much to the shock of Superhead fans everywhere, unprotected oral sex is behind the surge of HPV, the human papilloma virus that triggers oral cancer–this was discovered months ago.
To recap, throat cancer that stems from HPV is more common than throat cancer that stems from tobacco use, according to Ohio State University researchers. In a thirty-plus year span, (1974-2007), researchers found a 225 percent increase in oral cancer.
Once infected, the oral cancer can spread to the head, neck and mouth. The throat tumors it causes, oropharyngeal cancers, develop in the tonsils, behind the mouth, tongue, throat and the soft palate. A whopping 64 percent of all oral cancer cases are triggered by HPV.
Now, a brand new study published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology examined the tumors of 271 patients diagnosed with throat cancer between 1984-2004, and has confirmed the meteoric rise in the disease, from under 20 percent in the 1980s, to more than 70 percent, post-2000.
The researchers estimated that if the trend continues, by 2020 the virus will cause more throat cancer than cervical cancer.
Six is the magic number, if you have more than six lifetime oral sex partners, you are eight times more likely to develop oral cancer when compared to someone who has never engaged in the intimate act. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, “HPV has now been shown to be sexually transmitted between partners and is conclusively implicated in the increasing incidence of young nonsmoking oral cancer patients. HPV is the same virus identified as the causative agent in more than 90 percent of all cervical cancers. Based on recent data, it appears that in people under the age of 50, HPV-associated oral cancers may even be replacing tobacco as the primary causative agent in the initiation of the disease process.”
Symptoms include swollen lymph nodes in the neck, lengthy earache or lengthy sore throat. A combination treatment of radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and/or surgery, is typically the course of treatment for patients.
Researchers caution that the general public should not panic because the overall incidences of oral cancer triggered by HPV is relatively low; according to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 37,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer, 8,000 will succumb to the disease.
The best protection is flavored condoms when engaging in the act.