Oral sex can spread human papilloma virus (HPV) – the most common sexually transmitted virus. Find out if oral sex can give you cancer.

Sexual health: Does oral sex really cause cancer?

Sexual health: Does oral sex really cause cancer?  |  Photo Credit: Thinkstock

New Delhi: Sexual health presents a wide range of risks and being aware of the facts about certain things, including the possible link between oral sex and cancer, can help you lead a healthier life. Oral sex, the act of stimulating the genitals using the mouth and tongue, is a risk factor for spreading many sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Oral sex may not directly cause cancer, however, it can spread human papilloma virus (HPV) – the most common sexually transmitted virus.

HPV infection in the mouth and throat has been linked to some types of cancer. It is claimed that human papilloma virus can cause pre-cancerous changes in cells, resulting in throat cancer later on. Cancers in the mouth and throat are sometimes called head and neck cancers.

According to the NHS, drinking alcohol and smoking or chewing tobacco are the main risk factors for mouth and throat cancer, however, growing evidence shows that HPV infection in the mouth is leading to an increasing proportion of cancer. It is estimated that about 35 per cent of throat cancers are infected with HPV.

HPV may not be the sole cause of throat cancer, but having it increases the risk. In fact, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007reported that people who have oral sex with at least six different partners have a higher risk of developing throat cancer.

Of more than 100 types of HPV, around 15 are linked to cancers, as per NHS. These types of HPV can be passed on through vaginal and anal sex, and are linked to cancer of the cervix, anus, and penis.

Adopting safer sex habits such as wearing contraception during oral sex can help reduce the risk of contracting HPV infection and other health risks.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.

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