Oral sex warning as too much at a young age ‘may increase mouth cancer risk’

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A new study has warned having a lot of oral sex at a young age could increase the risk of mouth cancer.

The research found people who have had 10 or more oral sex partners are 4.3 times more likely to develop the condition.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)-related mouth and throat cancer was higher among those who had lots of oral sex at a young age.

The experts, from Johns Hopkins University in the US, asked 508 people about their oral sex lives and general health.

These included 163 people with oropharyngeal cancer which affects the middle part of the throat, back of the tongue and tonsils.

Back in 2019, it was revealed mouth cancer cases doubled in the UK as a result of oral sex and even alcohol.

Now the experts have warned that men are up to four times likely to develop HPV-related cancers linked to oral sex than women.

The aim of the study was to build on previous research in both men and women, the team revealed.

Otolaryngologist Virginia Drake, who authored the paper, said: "It is not only the number of oral sexual partners, but also other factors not previously appreciated that contribute to the risk of exposure to HPV orally and subsequent HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer.

"As the incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer continues to rise in the United States, our study offers a contemporary evaluation of risk factors for this disease.

"We have uncovered additional nuances of how and why some people may develop this cancer, which may help identify those at greater risk."

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The findings published in the journal Cancer, revealed that having 10 or more oral sex partners was linked with a 4.3-fold increase in developing HPV-related mouth or throat cancer.

According to the experts, the highest risk was associated with those who had performed oral sex on several different people in a short period of time.

Age was another factor that could also increase the chances of developing the disease, as well as those who had older sexual partners in their youth.

It even found people who had extramarital sex were at an increased risk of developing cancer too.

Anna Middleton, founder of London Hygienist, has previously warned about the rise of HPV-linked to oral cancer in young people.

She said: "This research is incredibly concerning, but one which does not come as a surprise, there have been increasing cases linking HPV to oral cancer in young people in recent years, so much so it could supersede alcohol and smoking as a risk associated with oral cancer.

"Currently around one in four mouth cancers and a third of all throat cancers are HPV related, but in younger patients most throat cancers are now HPV related.

"This risk factor should urge patients to visit their dental practice routinely for oral cancer screening. People need to be aware when engaging with sexual activity and take the right precautions.

"If you're worried about HPV ensure you consult your GP and continue to see your dentist, dental hygienist or therapist regularly, practices are still open.

"Whatever you do, do not ignore any symptoms that last more than three weeks and if you are worried about coming to a clinic due to COVID-19, we can triage patients over video or phone call."

  • Cancer

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