Contracting HPV From Oral Sex Can Make You Seven Times Likelier To Develop Head And Neck Cancer
A massive medical study – of 96,000 participants over 4 years – has shown that if you contract HPV via oral sex, you’re at least seven times more likely to also develop cancers of the head and neck (cancers of the pharynx, larynx, sinuses, oral cavity, and salivary glands).
And people infected with the strain HPV-16 can be 2 to 22 times likelier to develop head and neck cancers. Decades ago, it was believed that head and neck cancers were caused primarily by cigarette use, but scientists now believe that up to 70 percent of head and neck cancers are caused by HPV, and that in the next 5 years, head and neck cancers will replace cervical cancer as the most common HPV-related cancer.
Recall that HPV is the most common STI – almost every sexually active person contracts it at some point in their life. And while awareness campaigns and marketing for vaccines have largely been aimed at women, HPV probably accounts for a spike in head and neck cancers in men over the last three decades, too.
Bottom line: Everyone should get tested and treated for HPV, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The CDC has a directory of clinics that provide low-cost or free HPV screening, and the vaccine Gardasil has a payment assistance program – carve some time out of your weekend for it, and you might just save your own life.