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Oral Sex And Carcinogens: Is It Safe To Go Down?

Jun 15, 13 Oral Sex And Carcinogens: Is It Safe To Go Down?

Michael Douglas has gone public about why he got throat cancer, and the answer sounds ludicrous, but there’s some truth to it, as there have been several new studies on cunnilingus and its relation to cancer.

Oral sex is often viewed by younger people as a safe alternative to penetrative sex because you can’t get pregnant (at least I don’t think you can), but the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and infections is still there. On top of the STD/STI risk, there’s also a small risk of developing cancer because of it.

It all comes from the ubiquitous human papillomavirus virus, or HPV as it’s commonly referred to.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Genital human papillomavirus (also called HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are more than 40 types of HPV that can infect the genital areas of males and females. These HPV types can also infect the mouth and throat.

HPV can cause serious health problems, including genital warts and certain cancers. There is no certain way to tell who will develop health problems from HPV and who will not. In most cases, HPV goes away by itself before it causes any health problems, and most people who become infected with HPV do not even know they have it.

HPV is not the same as herpes or HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). Both viruses can be passed on during sex, but they have different symptoms and cause different health problems.”

It seems that the knowledge of the link between cunnilingus and cancer has been somewhat of an urban myth until two-time Oscar winner, Michael Douglas spoke about his throat cancer publically.

According to the Guardian UK, Douglas shared, “Without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus.”

“Evidence of the link between HPV and oral cancer has been building for several decades. While head and neck cancers have been declining since the 1970s along with smoking rates, scientists have noticed an increase in a particular type of oral cancer. Known as “oral squamous cell carcinoma”, it is linked to the same strains of HPV known to cause cervical cancer.”

The current research doesn’t say in black and white that oral sex leads to HPV and subsequently cancer, but with the stats of oral sex on the rise, there’s plenty of research under way.

According to the CDC, the percent of males and females 15-44 years of age in 2006-2010 who had ever had oral sex with an opposite-sex partner are 81.7 percent for males and 80.4 percent for females. The stats for teens between 15-19 are even more eye-opening for naïve adults, with 48.4 percent of males 46.3 of females reporting having engaged in the practice.

It’s not too much of a surprise with pop songs like ,Kelly Rowland’s, “Kisses Down Low”, reaching the 22 spot on Billboard’s top 100 (Hip-Hop/R&B) this week. It’s pretty obvious with the popularity of a song that explicitly promotes cunnilingus, that teens are doing it, and the stats above may even be a little higher today.

With all that said, everybody’s doing it including kids, but aside from the moral qualms that come along with disobeying parents’ wishes and biblical teaching, it’s not truly as dangerous as the media would have us all believe.

“Last year a review was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine asking Is Oral Sex Really a Dangerous Carcinogen? Let’s Take a Closer Look. Psychologist Sara E Rosenquist noted the complexity of the research, including a Finnish study of married couples which found that husbands and wives often carried different strains of the virus in their genitals and mouths, and indeed had different strains of the virus from each other, and there was no clear link with oral sex.”

She came to the conclusion that: “HPV should not be a cause for concern among monogamous couples with a rich and varied sex life, as long as the sexual system remains closed and other immune compromising factors are not present. HPV becomes a concern in the context of immune system compromise and infection persistence.”

So, what does it all mean?

It’s ok for now, but that could be subject to change as more research is done. For now, enjoy yourself, or, rather, enjoy your partner enjoying yourself.

Image Credit: Thinkstock.com

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