Oral sex linked to cancer risk, more common than tobacco as cause now
US scientists said Sunday there is strong evidence linking
oral sex to cancer, and urged more study of how human
papillomaviruses may be to blame for a rise in oral cancer among
In the United States, oral cancer due to HPV infection is now more
common than oral cancer from tobacco use, which remains the leading
cause of such cancers in the rest of the world.
Researchers have found a 225-percent increase in oral
cancer cases in the United States from 1974 to 2007, mainly among
white men, said Maura Gillison of Ohio State
"When you compare people who have an oral infection or not... the
single greatest factor is the number of partners on whom the person
has performed oral sex," said Gillison, who has been researching
HPV and cancer for 15 years.
"When the number of partners increases, the risk increases," she
told reporters at the American Association for the Advancement of
Science meeting in Washington.
Previous studies have suggested that people who have performed oral
sex on six or more partners over a lifetime face an eight-fold
higher risk of acquiring HPV-related head or neck cancer than those
with fewer than six partners, she said.