ORAL sex increases your risk of getting throat cancer, experts warned last night.


Cancer … cervical cells

They said that it can pass on the human papilloma virus, which also triggers cervical cancer in women. And they claim oral sex is an even BIGGER cause of throat cancer — which kills 1,700 people a year — than smoking or drinking.

A study found men and women who had oral sex with more than six people in their lifetimes were 8.6 times more likely to develop the disease.

But smokers were only three times more likely to get it and drinkers were just two-and-a-half times more at risk.

The researchers compared 100 men and women with throat cancer to 200 healthy people, taking into account their sex lives.

They found that having oral sex does not always mean you get the HPV virus. But those who do catch it are 32 times more likely to develop throat cancer, which also affects the tonsils and the back of the tongue.

Surprisingly, people who already have HPV do not boost their risk of throat cancer if they also smoke or drink.

Until now, experts thought cigarettes and booze were the biggest causes.

But researcher Dr Maura Gillison, from the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, US, said last night: “It’s the virus that drives the cancer.”


Dr Gillinson

But she added: “People should be reassured that throat cancer is relatively uncommon, and the overwhelming majority of people with an oral HPV infection probably will not get it.”

She said that men can cut the risk for their partners even further by wearing a condom during oral sex.

About 4,600 Brits get throat cancer each year — one in 17 of all new cancers. Dr Julie Sharp, of Cancer Research UK, said: “As this was a small study, further research is needed.

“Previous studies have shown that, after age, the main causes of throat cancer are smoking or chewing tobacco or betel nut, and drinking too much.”

Meanwhile a study found a vaccine against HPV can stop cervical cancer. Gardasil was 98 per cent effective in tests, said a report.

(Source: The Sun, UK, MAY 10, 2007 by MICHAEL DAY)