Here is How Oral Sex Can Give You Cancer

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Oral Sex

Can oral sex give you cancer?

WARNING! ORAL SEX CAN CAUSE CANCER: Oral sex is damn awesome, we all know. It has umpteen benefits; from satisfying your partner, to increasing intimacy or helping climax, oral sex feels fantastic. But there’s a downside to it, or rather many downsides. It causes various sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV), and HPV can cause cancer!

Some types of oral cancer are linked to human papilloma virus (HPV) infection in the mouth and throat. 

HPV can cause cancer.

HPV

There are various strains of HPV that can cause an infection, easily over 40. Some of these are cancer-causing. If you are infected with a particular strain of the virus, it can increase your chances of contracting a throat cancer by 55 times!

​Number of throat cancer patients growing.

HPV

A study by Chemical Research in Toxicology established that close to 21 per cent patients with oropharyngeal cancer before 1990 had the presence of HPV. The number of patients shot up three times, with 65 per cent patients with HPV-related throat cancer after 2000.

What is throat cancer?

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Throat cancer, officially known as oropharyngeal cancer, is more than twice as common in men than women, according to the American Cancer Society. It specifically affects your tonsils and the base, or the very back, of your tongue, says Dr. Teknos.

Throat cancer is different from oral cancer, which occurs in your lips, gums, tongue, linings of your cheek, or the roof or floor of your mouth. Throat cancer and oral cancer share some common causes—think smoking or chewing tobacco—but HPV is not one of them. Certain HPV strains are linked to throat cancer, not to oral cancer, he explains.

How Is Oral Sex Linked to Throat Cancer?

HPV

About 70 percent of oropharyngeal cancers are caused by HPV, says the National Cancer Institute. So what’s going on?

HPV is a shockingly common STD. Between 2013 and 2014, 45 percent of men aged 18 to 59 carried some form of HPV, according to the most recent CDC data. It’s so common that if you’re sexually active, you’ll probably contract it at some point in your life.

But that definitely doesn’t mean everyone who does will go on to develop the cancer. That’s because in the vast majority of the cases, your body will fight it off, clearing it from your system within 1 to 2 years.

There are more than 40 types of HPV, though, and some strains are more serious than others. Doctors call them “high risk” strains, and researchers found that of the men who tested positive for genital HPV, 25 percent carried at least one of them. The type most commonly linked to throat cancer is called HPV 16.

Research shows that nearly 7 percent of Americans have oral HPV, but only 1 percent carries that cancer-causing type, according to the CDC.

If you’re unlucky enough to harbor a cancer-causing strain, proteins that are coded by the virus can attack your cells and cause them to grow out of control. At the same time, it messes with cell suicide—a scary-sounding process that’s actually completely normal, and stops cells from multiplying unchecked if there’s a problem there, explains Dr. Teknos. As a result, cancerous cells can begin to increase rapidly, causing the formation of the HPV-positive tumor.

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