The internet can be a scary and confusing place. One day it tells you that drinking a box of red wine will give you killer abs and prepare you to run a marathon (don’t quote me here), and the next thing you know, a glass of grape juice may take years off your life (again... I may be exaggerating to prove a point).
The latest in internet clickbait is the new research that states that oral sex can lead to cancer of the head and neck. ARE YOU TELLING ME I CAN’T EVER #$*% A $%*# AGAIN!?
For the sake of our collective sanity and for the mouth-loving ding dongs and hoohas of the world, let’s get to the bottom of this....
Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York have recently published a report in the JAMA Oncology detailing the link between the human papillomavirus (HPV) and cancer of the head and neck.
The study followed more than 96,000 people. Participants were first tested for oral HPV with a mouthwash. Nearly four years later, 132 of the original subjects had developed some form of head and neck cancer. Those patients with cancer were then compared to three patients without cancer.
It was found that people infected with HPV-16 were up to 22 times as likely to have developed oropharyngeal cancer.
HPV can be spread through genital and oral sex. It can be spread through heterosexual or homosexual intercourse.
Head and neck cancers have long been attributed largely to smoking and drinking. A significant rise in the number of head and neck cancer cases in heterosexual males in the past 30 years lead experts to reexamine other possible causes. They now estimate that HPV accounts for nearly 70% of head and neck cancers. It is predicted that by 2020, oropharyngeal cancer could beat cervical cancer as the primary cancer caused by HPV.
BUT WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
It means that you can contract HPV through oral sex, and HPV can potentially lead to oropharyngeal cancer. So yes, it is possible that having oral sex can increase your risk for cancer. But oral sex can also increase your risk for a black eye if you’re not careful! It’s about safety and responsibility here, people.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “in most cases, HPV infections of all types go away before they cause any health problems.”
It is recommended that boys and girls get three doses of the HPV vaccine starting at the age of 11 or 12. Though HPV vaccines that are currently on the market were largely developed to prevent cervical cancer, it is possible that they could prevent oropharyngeal cancers as well, since they are designed to ward off the initial HPV infection. As HPV research develops, so will vaccines that focus on oral HPV.
So let this new knowledge inspire us to practice safe sex. Use protection! Get tested! Be safe and be healthy and have mind-blowing sex!