Study reveals shocking link between oral sex and mouth cancer

Experts have now warned that lots of oral sex at a young age can increase the chances of developing mouth cancer.

Study Reveals Those Who Do ‘Oral’ Face a Higher Risk of Mouth Cancer
© Getty Images
Study Reveals Those Who Do ‘Oral’ Face a Higher Risk of Mouth Cancer

A study recently carried out by the John Hopkins Unversity has shown that a lot of oral sex from a young age could be linked to higher chances of developing mouth cancer.

Discover our latest podcast

Oral could be more dangerous than you think

The study published in the medical journal Cancer asked 508 participants to reveal the nitty-gritty details of their sex life and their general health in order to see if the two were linked.

Included in the study were 163 participants who suffered from oropharyngeal cancer, a type of cancer that affects the back of the tongue, tonsils and soft palette as well as the middle of the throat.

Researchers concluded that this type of mouth cancer was surprisingly higher in those who engaged in oral sex at a young age with multiple different partners. In fact, they concluded that those who have had ten or more oral sex partners could be 4.3 times more likely to develop the disease.

Conclusions continued to show that those who started having oral sex before the age of 18 increased their risk of developing cancer by 80% compared to those who waited until they were twenty. The risk was even tripled in those who had over five oral sex partners in every decade since becoming sexually active.

‘One in four mouth cancers are HPV related’

While the numbers seem shocking, the results of the study are all but a surprise as experts have previously warned that men can be up to four times more likely to develop HPV-related cancers (such as oropharyngeal cancer) linked to oral sex, than women. Author of the paper, Otolaryngologist Virginia Drake explained:

It is not only the number of oral sexual partners, but also other factors not previously appreciated that contribute to the risk of exposure to HPV orally and subsequent HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer.

The study comes as rates of HPV related cancers in America are continuing to increase, prompting questions of how this type of disease is developed. And, with HPV being a highly contagious sexually transmitted infection, it makes sense that higher numbers of sexual contact could result in increased rates of the virus. Dr Drake continued:

We have uncovered additional nuances of how and why some people may develop this cancer, which may help identify those at greater risk.

The study also revealed that those who engaged in extramarital sex or often had older partners in their youth also face a higher risk of developing HPV-related cancers.

London Hygienist founder Anne Middleton previously warned others about the risks between oral sex and mouth cancersafter seeing an increase of the disease in youth:

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.

She continued to urge others ‘to visit their dental practice routinely for oral cancer screening’ in order to pick up on instances of HPV-related mouth cancer. Outside of cancer HPV is undetectable in the mouth but can be prevented if people follow appropriate safety measures such as taking the HPV vaccine.

However, if you do suspect you may have HPV then make sure to consult your GP and visit your dentist on a regular basis.

Lung cancer: Study reveals 3 origins of the disease in non-smokers Lung cancer: Study reveals 3 origins of the disease in non-smokers