Oral sex can cause cancer. It starts with the human papillomavirus, or HPV and may take years to develop. For this reason a new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that all young men between eleven and twenty-one should be immunized. The vaccine program would protect males against throat cancer and in females helps protect them from cervical cancer among others caused by HPV. New research data from epidemiologists shows the HPV vaccines to be ‘very effective’ in reducing and preventing genital warts in both sexes, as well as cancer.
Unfortunately there is a great deal of ignorance about sexually transmitted infections, or STIs in general and HPV in particular. A recent survey says that 25% of all girls wrongly believes that the HPV vaccine protects them from all STIs. Some STI viruses cause cervical, neck and head cancer as well as genital warts. The call to immunize boys against HPV comes after a worrying spike in the number of cancer cases caused by oral sex, among younger males.
There are now more than one thousand cases of throat cancer every year. Which is a 100% increase since 1995, before when, the numbers were plateaued. 7 out of 10 cases are caused by HPV. It was just 3 out of 10 in the pre 1995 era. A new study also extrapolated that sixteen million people in the US have HPV in their mouth and throat. Fortunately most do not have the strain that causes cancer. The HPV immunization is encouraged for girls and has been largely administered since 2006, but not quite half of young girls have received a minimum of 1 out of the 3 recommended shots.
HPV and Throat Cancer
Saliva and sexual fluids are the main transmitters of the virus which does not discriminate along gender lines. So that a full vaccination program would reduce the risks of both throat cancer for boys and girls and cervical cancer in girls. Males are more likely to get throat cancer than girls, simply because HPV colonizes the female genital tract. This type of cancer has a 2 to 3 decade incubation period and the current spike in the number of HPV-cancer cases has its origins in the ‘free love’ era of the 1960’s. It would seem that oral sex was prevalent among the hippies because of the safety from pregnancy considerations.
The latest throat cancer victims also have a different demographic profile to those of a decade ago. They are more likely to be younger middle class patients rather than the older poorer smokers of the last generation. Widening the vaccination net to include boys will improve the health of the population as a whole by giving more protection to girls and preventing genital warts and anal cancer in both sexes. The stumbling block to this eminently sensible health program is, as ever, political. Michele Bachmann, congresswoman and would be presidential candidate has been heard to say of the HPV vaccination that it ‘ravages girls’.