HPV Infection From Oral Sex May Increase Cancer Risk In Men

First Posted: Feb 14, 2016 08:06 PM EST

A new study presented by the Advancement of Science American Association shows how oral sex increases the risk of cancer in men--particularly head and neck cancers, through the human papillomavirus (HPV). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the health issue affects 90 percent of sexually active men and 80 percent of sexually active women, respectively.

Gypsyamber D'Souza, who teaches epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, found that middle-aged white men are at a particularly high risk for HPV head and neck driven cancers--particularly those with a higher number of sexual partners.

D'Souza also said that nearly two of three of these oral cancers in the U.S. and in many other western nations can be attributed to the HPV 16 strain infection and that the risk for oral HPV increases with the number of oral sex partners that men have.

"Our research shows that for men, the number of oral sex partners - as that number increases, the risk of an oral HPV infection increases," D'Souza said, via The Daily Mail.

However, an increased number of sexual partners does not seem to have the same effect in women. 

"Comparing men and women with the same number of sexual partners, a man is much more likely to become infected with oral HPV than a woman."

Researchers found that the number of sexual partners for women does not seem to affect risk. In fact, women who've had more vaginal sexual partners appear to have a lower risk for oral HPV infection, which may be due to the fact that when women are first exposed to HPV vaginally, their body builds up an immune response that provides better protection, D'Souza says, preventing them from getting oral HPV. However, men do not appear to have the same immune response

HPV can cause serious health problems, including genital warts and certain cancers. However, in most cases HPV goes away on its own before causing any health problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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