Men who perform oral sex on their partners have a high risk of contracting a rare form of mouth or throat cancer, according to new research.
Smokers who have had more than five sexual partners are at even greater risk of developing the cancer triggered by the human papilloma virus (HPV) – which is the main cause of cervical cancer.Associate Professor Amber D’Souza, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US, said:
“For these reasons, it would be useful to be able to identify healthy people who are most at risk of developing oropharyngeal cancer in order to inform potential screening strategies, if effective screening tests could be developed.
“Most people perform oral sex in their lives, and we found that oral infection with cancer-causing HPV was rare among women regardless of how many oral sex partners they had.
“Among men who did not smoke, cancer-causing oral HPV was rare among everyone who had less than five oral sex partners, although the chances of having oral HPV infection did increase with number of oral sexual partners, and with smoking.”
But scientists say that only 0.7 per cent of men – seven in every 1,000 – will ever develop HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer in their lifetimes.
The risk was much lower among women, those who did not smoke, and those who had less than five oral sex partners in their lifetimes.