How safe is unprotected oral sex

Dangerous for women: oral sex can transmit the HPV virus

The fact that unprotected sex can transmit viruses is nothing new. What is less well known is that oral sex can infect you with viruses that cause cancer. A new US study now shows: Anyone who carries the human papilloma virus HPV-16 in their mouth has a 22-fold increased risk of developing cancer in the mouth or throat.

Three years ago, Michael Douglas hit the headlines claiming that oral sex caused his cancer. Even then, there was evidence that the HP viruses, which are normally associated with the development of cervical cancer, can also cause cancer in the mouth.

HPV increases cancer risk 22-fold

The new study by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine confirms this assumption. To do this, the researchers examined the virus colonization in the mouth of around 97,000 healthy test subjects. After four years, 132 participants had developed a tumor in the throat. The researchers compared the virus strains of those affected with those of healthy subjects.

It showed that the participants who initially carried HPV-16 in their mouth had a 22-fold increased probability of developing cancer over the course of four years. Other forms of HPV also increased the risk of cancer, although not quite as drastically.

Risk increases with sexual partners

Other studies had already found a connection between oral sex and colonization with HP viruses years ago. A study published in the American Medical Journal came to the conclusion that around one in ten men and almost four percent of women in the USA are infected with HP viruses, which can lead to cancer. The more sexual partners the study participants had, the higher the risk of infection.

HPV is a common cause of throat cancer

According to the German Society for Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (DGHNO KHC), more than 18,000 people develop head and neck tumors every year in Germany. This is the fourth most common cancer in men. Doctors even suspect that every second to fourth tumor in the mouth and throat is caused by HPV.


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