Oral Sex Increases Throat Cancer Risk

From New Scientist:

“People who have had more than five oral-sex partners in their lifetime are 250% more likely to have throat cancer than those who do not have oral sex, a new study suggests. The researchers believe this is because oral sex may transmit human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus implicated in the majority of cervical cancers. The new findings should encourage people to consistently use condoms during oral sex as this could protect against HPV, the team says. Other experts say that the results provide more reason for men to receive the new HPV vaccine.”

Calling HPV more significant a factor for throat cancer than smoking or alcohol, the study indicates that those infected with HPV have up to a 32-fold increased risk for oropharyngeal cancer. One doctor cautions against panic, saying, “People should be reassured that oropharyngeal cancer is relatively uncommon, and the overwhelming majority of people with an oral HPV infection probably will not get throat cancer.”

As I mentioned here recently, some doctors believe that the new HPV vaccine could help prevent anal cancer in gay men. This latest finding should encourage you to be tested for HPV. For most gay men, it is too late. Approximately 95% of all HIV positive men are co-infected with HPV and about 65% of HIV negatives have it as well. But you should still find out. If you are HPV-negative, a $300 or so vaccine seems like a pretty good bargain.