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Oral Cancer Risk Decreases For Women With Many Sexual Partners

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New research suggests that women who have had many sexual partners are less likely to get oral cancer, meanwhile men who have had the same number of previous sexual partners are more likely to suffer from the disease.

The Mirror reports that scientists were initially perplexed by these findings, until they realized that, for women, vaginal sex appears to create some kind of resistance to the human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause cancer of the mouth.

However, the same does not seem to be true for men, who do not build up an immune response to the virus through penetrative sexual intercourse. Instead, oral sexual activity with a greater number of partners appears to increase the risk of exposure to the virus for men. Indeed, two out of three people suffering from the disease were found to be male.

While the use of tobacco, excessive alcohol intake and insufficient eating of fresh fruit and vegetables remain by far the main causes of cancer, it has been found that this kind of cancer has become 225 percent more prevalent over the last twenty years – a statistic researchers attribute to the fact that young people are engaging in oral sex at a much younger age than did previous generations, reports Medical Xpress. Gypsyamber D’Souza, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, also said that middle aged white males are at particularly high risk when compared to other demographic groups:

Performing oral sex is very common among men and women but there are stark differences in oral HPV infection and the rate of cancer…Comparing men and women with the same number of sex partners, a man is much more likely to get infected with oral HPV than a woman. Women that had a lot of previous sexual partners were actually less likely to get infected with an oral HPV infection.

Researchers say that a quick and effective test that analyses saliva for the tell-tale signs of oral cancer is now in development.

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