HPV Through Oral Sex Could Become 'Leading Cause Of Mouth Cancer', Experts Predict

HPV Through Oral Sex Could Become 'Leading Cause Of Mouth Cancer'
View of feet of couple having sex in bed.
Neil Beckerman via Getty Images
View of feet of couple having sex in bed.

Human papilloma virus (HPV) passed through oral sex could soon overtake smoking to become the leading cause of mouth cancer among men and women, health experts claim.

To coincide with Mouth Cancer Action Month, euroClinix have shared an eye-opening infographic showing the link between oral sex and mouth cancer.

According to the NHS, roughly 6,797 people in the UK were diagnosed with mouth cancer in 2011.

Experts have warned mouth cancer is on the rise and the spread of HPV, as a result of oral sex, could play a huge part in this.

HPV, which can be contracted through unprotected sexual activity, affects the skin found in areas of the body that are exposed to moisture, such as the mouth, rectum, cervix and throat.

The virus is common and highly contagious, with over three quarters of sexually active women acquiring it at some time in their lives, according to NHS Choices.

As the type of HPV found in the mouth is almost certain to be related to sexual activity, health experts claim it is highly likely that oral sex could cause mouth cancer.

Symptoms of mouth cancer include ulcers that do not heal, persistent discomfort or pain in the mouth, white or red patches in the mouth or throat, difficulty swallowing, a lump in the neck, unexplained weight loss and bad breath.

To prevent the spread of HPV, experts recommend using a condom during oral sex. This provides a protective barrier between the penis and the mouth.

Additionally, a latex square known as a dam can be placed over a woman's genitals to protect against infection.

Dr Helen Webberley, the dedicated GP for Oxford Online Pharmacy, says : "We have known for some time that many genital cancers including vulval, cervical, penile and anal are associated with the wart virus, so it seems a logical conclusion that the same should apply to mouth cancers."

She highly recommends using condoms or oral barriers when engaging in oral sex and adds: "The HPV vaccine programme, which is open to all girls aged 12 to 13 as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme, should also be embraced and will help to reduce the ongoing prevalence of these cancers."


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