Oral Cancer Risk Twice as High in Men with Multiple Oral Sex Partners

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Feb 15, 2016 05:49 AM EST

According to new findings of a study presented during the American Association for the Advancements of Science (AAAS) annual meeting on Feb. 12, the risk of developing cancers of the mouth and throat among men increases as with the number of oral sex partners.

These types of cancers are linked to oral sex activity that could spread the human papillomavirus or HPV, which is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, the Daily Mail reported.

Compared to women with the same number of oral sex partners, men were found to be twice as likely to contract these HPV-related cancers, the researchers said. In fact, women are less likely to develop oral cancer if they engage with more sexual partners.

The report also noted that white men in their middle age are the ones most at risk of developing oral cancer as compared to other men from different races.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx claim more than 8,000 lives every year in the United States. There are also over 30,000 new cases diagnosed annually.

"Our research shows that for men, the number of oral sex partners - as that number increases, the risk of an oral HPV infection increases," said study author Gypsyamber D'Souza, who teaches epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

"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."

D'Souza said that this could be due to the immune response among women after their initial exposure to HPV in their vagina. Unlike their male counterpart, the women develop stronger immunity against oral HPV infection.

Furthermore, men are more prone to oral cancer because they tend to take more time in clearing the infection, according to D'Souza. "Men are not only more likely to be infected with oral HPV infection than women, but our research shows that once you become infected, men are less likely to clear this infection than women, further contributing to the cancer risk."

While there are treatment options for oral cancer, such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, these could lead to disfiguration of the appearance and could cost a lot of money. Early detection of the condition is also essential.

Some of the risk factors for oral cancer include cigarette, cigar or pipe smoking, use of smokeless tobacco, and excessive drinking of alcohol, according to the CDC.

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