Womens Health

Your Mouth Can Get You Into Trouble

You may not have thought about this, but there are many similarities between the mouth and the genitals. Maybe that's why some experts refer to the mouth as a second set of genitals. At any rate, the mouth is made of flesh, is divided into two sections and has a cavity that produces secretions. Turn it on its side and it doesn't look much different than a vagina. Perhaps this similarity is part of what makes oral sex such a temptation, at least on a subconscious level.

Significant Link

Recent U.S. research has discovered a significant link between the act of fellatio and the development of oral cancer. HPV is already known as a major cause of cervical cancer. Now researchers have found that the human papilloma-virus can travel to many parts of the human body by way of the skin and membranes. Some of the body parts to which HPV can be transmitted include the anus, penis, vagina, tonsils, tongue, throat, and mouth. 

Some 80 strains of HPV exist, but the most dangerous types include HPV16 and HPV18. These strains are said to be responsible for more than 95% of all cases of cervical cancer. But these two types of HPV also increase your risk for developing oral cancer. One study showed that those who perform fellatio on five men or more increase their risk for oral cancer by 2.5 times the risk for those who have never indulged in this common sexual act.

Sexual Habits

Johns Hopkins University's Dr. Maura Gillison obtained blood and saliva samples from 100 people including oral cancer patients and a number of healthy people as a control group. She surveyed the participants about their sexual habits and number of partners as well as their oral sex experiences. The participants were also asked to detail their HPV, alcohol consumption, and smoking histories.

Gillison discovered that those who developed HPV increased their oral cancer likelihood times 32. In those who were found to have HPV16, the chances of getting oral cancer were multiplied by 58, while drinkers and smokers had three times the risk for oral cancer of those who abstained from these practices.

Those who had performed fellatio on 1-5 people doubled their risk for oral cancer, but the likelihood multiplied by 5 if they had engaged in fellatio on six or more men. Gillison was forced to conclude that fellatio increases the risk for contracting oral cancer. Kissing too, cannot be ruled out as a risk factor for HPV transmission.

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