Wednesday, May 16, 2007

HPV a Risk Factor in Throat Cancer

Tobacco and alcohol use had been considered the leading risk factors to developing throat cancer. A new study suggests that HPV is the strongest risk factor to getting throat cancer.
This case-control study, reported in the May 9 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, found that a prior HPV infection increased the risk of developing oropharyngeal cancer by 32, much higher than the 3-fold increase in risk found for smoking and the 2.5-fold increase for drinking.

How do you suppose these people got an HPV infection which is usually associated with cervical cancer?
Oral-genital contact was strongly associated with oropharyngeal cancer, suggesting that the main route of transmission for oral infection with HPV was via oral sex. Study participants who reported having more than 6 oral sex partners in their lifetime were 8.6 times more likely to develop the HPV-linked cancer. However, the researchers acknowledge that the study cannot rule out transmission through direct mouth-to-mouth contact or other means, such as via skin contact.

I guess those people who have been having oral sex because they thought it was safer are in for a really big suprise. It does make sense. After all, you can transmit the herpes virus and HIV the same way. I really doubt that this study will cause anyone to modify their behaviour. The next study needs to be testing to see if you can catch HPV, HIV or herpes from sex toys. It'll be interesting to see how long these virus' can remain alive on those objects.

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