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article imageOral sex the leading cause of oral cancer in the U.S.

By Vincent Sobotka     Feb 27, 2011 in Health
It may be tough for some to believe considering the amount of deaths caused each year by substances such as tobacco, alcohol and air pollution. However, recent studies show that oral sex causes an overwhelming percentage of oral cancer in the U.S.
"An individual who has six or more lifetime partners - on whom they've performed oral sex - has an eightfold increase in risk compared to someone who has never performed oral sex."
Those were the words of Dr. Maura Gillison of Ohio State University during a recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
According to new research, 64 percent of oralpharynxl cancers in the United States are diagnosed as a result of transferring human papillomavirus (HPV) through oral sex.
The leading cause of oralpharynxl cancers in the rest of the world remains tobacco.
Approximately 37,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with oral cancer in 2010, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.
The NPR reports that Gillison also noted this recent rise in oral cancer is predominately reported among young, Caucasian males. There is currently no medical evidence to support this statistical trend.
British newspaper The Guardian reported Gillision's statement from "The group of individuals born after 1935 have started to see this increase. Every birth cohort appears to be at greater risk from HPV and oral cancers than the group born before them. These were people who were in their teens and 20s in the 1950s and 1960s, when the sexual revolution happened in the US."
Though the U.S. may be the only country where oral cancer is more commonly caused by oral sex than anything else, the trend of HPV-related cancers is increasing worldwide. Swedish researchers reviewed statistics back to 1970, during which 23 percent of oral cancer tumors were positive for HPV. Forty years later, in 2010, that number had sky-rocketed to 93 percent.
Girls in the U.S. are often vaccinated against HPV to prevent cervical cancer. Though there is a vaccination for males to consider to prevent HPV positive oral cancer, it is costly, and no researchers have claimed that HPV is completely preventable through the vaccination, but there is a reduction in the chances of contracting the virus.
An important note in this story, again reported by NPR, is the vaccination, referred to as Gardasil, is manufactured by a company named Mereck, which funded some of Gillison's research.
More about Oral sex, HPV, Oral cancer, Cancer, Human papillomavirus
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