For many years, smoking and drinking were considered the dominant risk factors for cancers of the throat. But on Monday, The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported that the actor Michael Douglas believed that his throat cancer was caused by an infection acquired during oral sex, highlighting a trend that has alarmed many scientists….
The Guardian quoted Mr. Douglas as saying, “Without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV, which actually comes from cunnilingus.”
Indeed, in recent years scientists have documented a steep rise in throat cancers caused by a strain of HPV that can be transmitted through oral sex. The virus, human papillomavirus Type 16, also causes many cases of cervical cancer in women.
In the 1980s, only a small number of throat cancers were linked to HPV infection. Historically, patients who developed the disease were in their 70s and were heavy smokers and drinkers.
Now, about 70 percent of all throat cancers are caused by HPV, up from roughly 15 percent three decades ago. Patients are now more frequently middle-aged husbands and fathers who are economically well off, nonsmokers and not particularly heavy drinkers. Men are three times more likely to be diagnosed than women with HPV-related throat cancer.
There are many strains of HPV, and the virus is so common that at some point most sexually active adults are exposed to it. A majority of people fight off the infection and do not develop symptoms. But in a very small number of people chronic infection causes oropharyngeal cancers near the base of the tongue and the area just behind the mouth….
In a study presented last weekend at a conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Dr. Haddad and other researchers showed for the first time that the partners of people with throat cancers caused by HPV were not at greater risk of developing oral HPV infections themselves. The study involved more than 200 people followed for about a year.
Dr. Haddad said the findings suggest that spouses and longtime partners do not need to take special precautions or change their sexual behavior.
For full story go to:
Throat Cancer Link to Oral Sex Gains Notice. By Anahad O’Connor. 3 June 2013.
What is HPV, and what are the risks? 4 June 2013
Can Oral Sex Cause Throat Cancer? 4 June 2013
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22751349 July 4, 2013.
Yes, oral sex can lead to cancer. June 4, 2013