Dr. Hisham Mehanna highlights the connection between oral sex and the increased risk of oropharyngeal cancer in the United States.
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in oropharyngeal cancer cases in the United States.
According to Dr. Hisham Mehanna, a professor at the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences at the University of Birmingham, oral sex plays a significant role in this alarming trend.
Mehanna describes the situation as an “epidemic” affecting both the U.S. and the U.K.
Oropharyngeal cancer, a type of throat cancer, has rapidly increased in the past two decades. Dr. Mehanna emphasizes that the number of lifetime sexual partners, specifically oral sex, is a key risk factor.
“Those with six or more lifetime oral-sex partners are 8.5 times more likely to develop oropharyngeal cancer than those who do not practice oral sex.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that human papillomavirus (HPV) is responsible for approximately 70% of oropharyngeal cancers in the United States.
As the most common sexually transmitted infection, HPV sees around 3 million new cases in the U.S. each year.
Although many individuals may never realize they have the virus, it can sometimes develop into cancer.
Data from the American Cancer Society indicates that between 2015 and 2019, there was a yearly increase of 1.3% in HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer cases in women and 2.8% in men.
Dr. Mehanna explains that while many people with HPV infections can clear them entirely, some individuals may experience severe symptoms due to a deficiency in their immune system.
This can lead to continuous replication of the virus, which can integrate into the host’s DNA and potentially cause cancerous cells to develop.
The CDC points out that it can take years for cancer to develop following an HPV infection.
It remains unclear whether having HPV alone is enough to cause oropharyngeal cancers or if other factors, such as smoking or chewing tobacco, play a role in the development of these cancers when combined with HPV.
This information underscores the importance of preventive measures and open communication with healthcare providers about sexual health.
The rise in oropharyngeal cancer cases linked to oral sex is a significant public health concern.
Further research and education are needed to understand better and address this growing epidemic.