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Anal sex now linked to increased rate of throat cancer : Dr Hisham Mehanna

 

Throat cancer rates are on the rise in the US and UK, and some experts are pointing to oral sex as the culprit.

Specifically, they are linking the transmission of a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV) to the development of cancer under certain conditions.

According to Dr Hisham Mehanna of the University of Birmingham, HPV is responsible for around 70% of throat cancer cases, and people with multiple sexual partners have a nine times higher risk of developing the disease.

 

Despite the fact that 54% of Americans have been vaccinated against HPV, population safety would require a higher number – closer to 80% – to have received the vaccine.

Anal sex now linked to increased rate of throat cancer : Dr Hisham Mehanna
Anal sex now linked to increased rate of throat cancer : Dr Hisham Mehanna

Writing in The Conversation, Dr Mehanna noted that “there has been a rapid increase in throat cancer in the west, to the extent that some have called it an epidemic.

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This has been due to a large rise in a specific type of throat cancer called oropharyngeal cancer.”

 

Oropharyngeal cancer, which forms in the back of the throat and around the tonsils, is most commonly caused by HPV, which is passed through anal, vaginal, and oral sex.

 

Dr Mehanna emphasized that “HPV is sexually transmitted. For oropharyngeal cancer, the main risk factor is the number of lifetime sexual partners, especially oral sex.

 

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.”

 

This underscores the importance of promoting safer sex practices and increasing access to the HPV vaccine in order to stem the rise in throat cancer cases.

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