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Study Finds Young People Having More Oral Sex At Higher Risk Of Mouth Cancer

Study Finds Young People Having More Oral Sex At Higher Risk Of Mouth Cancer

That doesn't mean you can't do it, just be safe about it

Tom Wood

Tom Wood

A new study has revealed that people who engage in more oral sex from a young age are at higher risk of mouth cancer.

The research found that those who had 10 or more oral sex partners were 4.3 times more likely to develop a mouth cancer, according to The Sun.

They also discovered that the risk of human papillomavirus (HPV) related mouth and throat cancer was higher amongst those young people who had more oral sex with more different people from their youth.

The study, published in the journal Cancer on Monday, was conducted by the scientists at Johns Hopkins University.

They asked 508 people to reveal the details of their sex lives. Amongst those people were 163 people who had contracted oropharyngeal cancer - a particular type of cancer that affects the middle of the throat, the back of the tongue, and tonsils.


Earlier research had discovered that men are four times more likely to develop of HPV related cancer linked to oral sex than women.

This most recent research found that those who started having oral sex before the age of 18 increased the risk of cancer by 80 percent, compared to those who started after the age of 20.

The risk of the aforementioned oropharyngeal cancer was almost tripled amongst those who had more than five oral sex partners in each decade since becoming sexually active, according to the study.

One dental hygienist has described the findings as 'incredibly concerning.'

Anna Middleton said: "This research is incredibly concerning, but one which does not come as a surprise, there have been increasing cases linking HPV to oral cancer in young people in recent years, so much so it could supersede alcohol and smoking as a risk associated with oral cancer,

"Currently around one in four mouth cancers and a third of all throat cancers are HPV related, but in younger patients most throat cancers are now HPV related.

"This risk factor should urge patients to visit their dental practice routinely for oral cancer screening.

"People need to be aware when engaging with sexual activity and take the right precautions.

"If you're worried about HPV, ensure you consult your GP and continue to see your dentist, dental, hygienist or therapist on a regular basis."

That said, this doesn't mean that you can't do it at all.


Dr Hunter Handsfield, a professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STD told Health Day: "No one should take this to mean, 'don't have oral sex'.

"And what no study has been able to answer is: If I take a young person and advise her to avoid oral sex, am I lowering her risk of throat cancer?

"(HPV is) essentially an unavoidable exposure of being sexually active."

The best way to avoid HPV related cancers is through the HPV vaccine, he said.

The best time to get vaccinated is before you become sexually active, according to research, so it is recommended for people aged between 12 and 13, as well as men who have sex with men, and people over nine-years-old with immune system weakness.

Featured Image Credit: Pexels

Topics: Science, World News, Health