Oral S*x Leading to Mouth Cancers
Half a million people a year are diagnosed worldwide with oral and throat cancer – 7,000 in the UK – with twice as many men as women. That’s because oral s*x on a woman is more risky than it is on a man.
Each year 150,000 people die of it – 2,000 in the UK.
Film star Michael Douglas was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2013 and he famously seemed to suggest it was brought on by HPV infection contracted through cunnilingus.
This follows a study in The New England Journal of Medicine which showed that people infected with HPV were 32 times more likely to develop these cancers.
HPV now accounts for more head and neck cancers than tobacco or alcohol.
Spread by skin-to-skin contact, not just by s*x, HPV affects almost everyone at some stage in their life, but in most people the immune system fights it off and it does no harm.
Occasionally, however, the virus takes hold and cancer is the result. The most dangerous strains of HPV are 16 and 18, which cause up to 95% of cervical cancers and are now being linked to oral cancer.
The mouth is structurally very similar to the vagina and cervix, lined by cells that are the target of HPV 16 and 18.