Virus that causes genital warts linked to oral cancer: study

Oct 13, 2010

Mouth and throat cancer could be caused by the virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancer, and it could be spreading through sex and French-kissing, a study published Wednesday says.

"In addition to the known oral cancer risk factors -- smoking, and chewing betel nuts -- human papillomavirus (HPV) has been added to the list," the study published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Emerging Infectious Diseases report says.

HPV has been documented in many cases of oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer, which is on the rise, and the study suggests that the increase in these mouth and throat cancers could be caused by infection with the virus that causes and .

They also suggest that the rising incidence of could be due to changing sexual behaviors.

Oral sex has become more commonplace and people have more sex partners and have sex earlier in life -- all behaviors linked to HPV-related oral cancers, the study said.

Its authors, Torbjorn Ramqvist and Tina Dalianis of the Karolinska Institutet, cited earlier studies and their own research using the Swedish Cancer Registry, in writing up their findings.

"In a recent study... it was shown that the risk of developing oral HPV infection increased with increases in lifetime oral or partners," they said.

"It has also been reported that ... open-mouthed kissing was associated with the development of oral HPV infection," they said, citing the results of a study that looked at 542 US students.

"We suggest that we are encountering a slow epidemic of mainly sexually transmitted HPV-induced" oral cancers, the report said.

Oropharyngeal cancers caused by HPV are the second most common cancer linked to the virus, and their incidence is increasing.

The researchers observed that cases of throat and mouth cancer are rising in Britain, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States, especially among young people, and more often among men than women.

The researchers urge the scientists to study the effects of the HPV vaccine available to girls and women on oropharyngeal squamous cell cancers.

If the vaccine is found effective against mouth and throat cancer tumors, health officials should consider expanding the universe of patients vaccinated against to include boys and men, they said.

Explore further: Lifestyle choices may affect the long-term heart health of childhood cancer survivors

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

HPV virus linked to breast cancer

Jun 11, 2007

A virus that can be sexually transmitted has been found in some patients with breast and other cancers, it was reported Sunday.

Drinking and smoking don't boost HPV-related cancer risk

Nov 27, 2007

Heavy smoking and drinking are known to cause head and neck cancer. Infection with human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16), a common strain of the sexually-transmitted HPV virus, is another known risk factor for head and neck ...

Recommended for you

Study shows epigenetic changes can drive cancer

Jul 26, 2014

Cancer has long been thought to be primarily a genetic disease, but in recent decades scientists have come to believe that epigenetic changes – which don't change the DNA sequence but how it is 'read' – also play a role ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ormondotvos
not rated yet Oct 13, 2010
Hmmmm. What a surprise!
denijane
not rated yet Nov 02, 2010
Oh, cool, now is the time to ban French kissing too! Or maybe, to put a condom on the tongue.
I'm sorry, but the way a virus transmits cannot be its whole definition. And so far, that is all we hear about it - limit your "dangerous" experiences, vaccinate or if you're already infected - get electro-cut. That cannot be the whole story and that's not medicine but butchery.