Men face higher risk of cancers linked to oral sex

February 13, 2016
Electron micrograph of a negatively stained human papilloma virus (HPV) which occurs in human warts. Credit: public domain

Men are twice as likely as women to get cancer of the mouth and throat linked to the human papillomavirus, or HPV, one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, researchers say.

For men, the risk of HPV-driven cancers of the head and neck rise along with the number of partners, researchers said Friday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in the US capital.

Nearly two out of three of these oral cancers in the United States and most western nations are caused by infection with the HPV 16 strain of the virus, and incidence of is on the rise in recent years, said Gypsyamber D'Souza, who teaches epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Middle aged white men are at particularly high risk compared to other races.

She said her research shows that youths are engaging in oral sex at increasingly young ages, compared to past generations.

"Our research shows that for men, the number of oral sex partners—as that number increases, the risk of an oral HPV infection increases," she told reporters.

But with , the number of does not appear to raise the risk.

"Comparing men and women with the same number of sexual partners, a man is much more likely to become infected with oral HPV than a woman."

Furthermore, women who have a greater number of vaginal sex partners appear to face a lower risk of oral HPV infection, she said.

The reason may be that when women are first exposed to HPV vaginally, they mount an immune response that prevents them from getting an oral HPV infection, she said.

But men do not seem to have equally robust immune responses.

"Men are not only more likely to be infected with oral HPV infection than women, but our research shows that once you become infected, are less likely to clear this infection than women, further contributing for the cancer risk."

HPV infection is quite common, and most people clear the virus within a year or two, she said.

In some cases, however, HPV does not go away and can lead to cellular changes in the mouth and throat, which eventually become cancerous.

Oral sex may raise the risk of head and neck cancer by 22 percent, according to a study published January in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

This type of cancer has risen 225 percent in the last two decades.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges HPV vaccination for all pre-teen boys and girls so they can be protected against the before they become sexually active.

Explore further: Oral cancer-causing HPV may spread through oral and genital routes

Related Stories

Oral cancer-causing HPV may spread through oral and genital routes

November 12, 2014
Oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infections were more common among men who had female partners with oral and/or genital HPV infection, suggesting that the transmission of HPV occurs via oral-oral and oral-genital routes, according ...

Oral HPV infection, HPV-related cancers more common in men

January 26, 2012
Oral HPV infection is more common among men than women, explaining why men are more prone than women to develop an HPV related head and neck cancer, according to a study presented at the Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer ...

HPV a growing cause of upper throat cancer (Update)

June 3, 2013
Actor Michael Douglas' comments about throat cancer have thrown a spotlight on cancer risks from a sexually spread virus. The virus, HPV, is best known for causing cervical cancer. But experts say it also is a growing cause ...

Study examines link between HPV and risk of head and neck cancers

January 21, 2016
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found that when human papillomavirus (HPV)-16 is detected in peoples' mouths, they are 22 times more likely than those without HPV-16 to develop a type of head and neck ...

Not enough kids receiving the recommended three doses of HPV vaccination

February 3, 2016
Most cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) are preventable with a vaccine. Yet the infection is responsible for 27,000 cancer diagnoses each year in the U.S.

Oral HPV infection lasts longer in older men, study finds

January 9, 2015
(HealthDay)—One type of oral HPV (human papillomavirus) infection, HPV16, seems to last a year or longer in men over the age of 45 than it does in younger men, new research indicates.

Recommended for you

Retaining one normal BRCA gene in breast, ovarian cancers influences patient survival

August 22, 2017
Determining which cancer patients are likely to be resistant to initial treatment is a major research effort of oncologists and laboratory scientists. Now, ascertaining who might fall into that category may become a little ...

Zebrafish larvae could be used as 'avatars' to optimize personalized treatment of cancer

August 21, 2017
Portuguese scientists have for the first time shown that the larvae of a tiny fish could one day become the preferred model for predicting, in advance, the response of human malignant tumors to the various therapeutic drugs ...

Scientists discover vitamin C regulates stem cell function, curbs leukemia development

August 21, 2017
Not much is known about stem cell metabolism, but a new study from the Children's Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) has found that stem cells take up unusually high levels of vitamin C, which then ...

Searching for the 'signature' causes of BRCAness in breast cancer

August 21, 2017
Breast cancer cells with defects in the DNA damage repair-genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 have a mutational signature (a pattern of base swaps—e.g., Ts for Gs, Cs for As—throughout a genome) known in cancer genomics as "Signature ...

How a non-coding RNA encourages cancer growth and metastasis

August 21, 2017
A mechanism that pushes a certain gene to produce a non-coding form of RNA instead of its protein-coding alternative can promote the growth of cancer, report researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) ...

Spaser can detect, kill circulating tumor cells to prevent cancer metastases, study finds

August 21, 2017
A nanolaser known as the spaser can serve as a super-bright, water-soluble, biocompatible probe capable of finding metastasized cancer cells in the blood stream and then killing these cells, according to a new research study.

5 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

baudrunner
1 / 5 (2) Feb 13, 2016
Most real scientists aren't all that alarmed about this study because they usually have their heads elsewhere.
Origin314
1 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2016
When prime researchers from the trials of the HPV vaccine come out speaking against it I think it is time to stop pushing this junk.

Now you want guys to get it? geez stop it already.
HealingMindN
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2016
Test question: " vaginally, they mount ...?"
AlexCoe
5 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2016
As a survivor of HPV-16 throat cancer, it's been brutal! You can make all the jokes you want, but some of us are out here dieing. It's been nearly 5 years since I was diagnosed and I've been through 9 chemo sessions, 70 gy of IMRT radiation treatments, simple tonsillectomy with no clear margin to the carotid artery, and last but not least, 11.5 hours of radical neck dissection with TORs, a full year out of work with rehab.

I hope that none of you ever hear the words, "You have cancer" or "I'm sorry, it's positive, squamous cell carcinoma..."

I would advise everyone to get the vaccine, it sure beats the hell out of cancer!
Julio
not rated yet Feb 15, 2016
Must be that there is a difference between playing with a vagina and playing with a penis? Women have easier to get HIV from a male partner than men to get HIV from a female. Maybe the same reasoning might apply to this issue. Males might be more exposed to fluids and areas when giving oral sex to a woman?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.