Oral sex at the origin of an “epidemic” of throat cancer?

Home Oral sex at the origin of an “epidemic” of throat cancer?
Written by Doug Hampton

In Western countries, oropharyngeal cancers, which affect the back of the throat or the amygdala, have been growing very significantly over the past twenty years. Main cause of this explosion of cases: HPV viruses, which are transmitted in particular during orogenital intercourse.

About a third of oropharyngeal cancers are now caused not by tobacco or alcohol, but by the practice of oral sex, vector of human papillomaviruses (HPV). This data concerns not only France (3,000 new cases of throat cancer attributable to HPV each year, according to the National Cancer Institute), but also most Western countries, such as the United States or Great Britain. .

To the point that some researchers do not hesitate to speak of“epidemic”recalls in The Conversation Hisham Mehanna, Professor of the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences at the University of Birmingham. “For oropharyngeal cancer, the main risk factor is the number of sexual partners during life, especially oral sex”continues the researcher. “People who have six or more oral sex partners in their lifetime are 8.5 times more likely to develop oropharyngeal cancer than those who do not perform oral sex.”

HPV vaccination

Is it possible to prevent these cancers? It would seem so, according to the researcher: anti-HPV vaccination, initially recommended only for young girls to prevent cancer of the cervix, HPV-induced in nine out of ten cases, could “also be effective in preventing HPV infection in the mouth”.

In France, anti-HPV vaccination is recommended for girls (since 2007) and boys (since 2021) aged 11 to 14 (two-dose schedule) and will be the subject of a generalized and free campaign in middle school next return. To date, only 41.5% of 16-year-old girls benefit from a complete regimen, and 12.8% of young boys have benefited from the first dose.

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