- Infection of the mouth and throat by HPV can lead to oropharyngeal cancer
- Researchers from the US polled 508 people about their health and sexual habits
- Those with 10 oral sex partners are 4.3 times more likely to get throat cancer
- The risk is also increased by having extramarital sex, the experts warned
The risk of developing Human papillomavirus (HPV) -related mouth and throat cancer is increased by having lots of oral sex at a young age, a study has warned.
Researchers from the US polled more than 500 people about their sexual practices — including 163 people who suffered from so-called oropharyngeal cancer.
The oropharynx is the name given to the middle part of the throat, behind the mouth, and includes the back third of the tongue, the tonsils and the soft palate.The team found that having 10 or more oral sex partners increases your risk of oropharyngeal cancer by 4.3 times.
The work builds on past studies that have linked performing oral sex with HPV-related cancer — which is triggered by the virus infecting the mouth and throat.
Experts have previously warned that men are up to four times more likely to develop HPV-related cancers as a result of oral sex than women.
'It is not only the number of oral sexual partners, but also other factors not previously appreciated that contribute to the risk of exposure to HPV orally and subsequent HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer,' said paper author Virginia Drake.
'As the incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer continues to rise in the United States, our study offers a contemporary evaluation of risk factors for this disease,' the Johns Hopkins University otolaryngologist added.
We have uncovered additional nuances of how and why some people may develop this cancer, which may help identify those at greater risk.'In their study, Dr Drake and colleagues polled 508 people — including 163 with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer — about their oral sex behaviours.
The team found that having 10 or more oral sex partners was associated with and 4.3-fold increase in the likelihood of developing HPV-related mouth or throat cancer.
Furthermore, higher levels of cancer risk were also associated with performing oral sex with many different partners in a short period of time, as well as having oral sex at a younger age.Alongside the role played by the timing and frequency of oral sex, the team also found that individuals who had older sexual partners in their youth were at a greater risk of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer.
Similarly, the cancer risk was found to be higher among those individuals who had extramarital sex.
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Cancer.