A renowned ear, throat and nose surgeon, Hisham Mehanna in the United Kingdom says that the recent increase in throat cancers in the United States is due to multiple sexual partners, particularly oral sex.
According to the America Cancer Society, there are about 54,540 new cases of the oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer in 2023. About 11,580 deaths from oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer occurred.
Oropharyngeal cancer occurs in the middle part of the throat just behind the oral cavity due to the abnormal growth of cells in the body.
According to data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), in 2020, Jamaica recorded 20 cases of oropharynx-related cancer. During that same year, there were 12 deaths.
Over the five-year period, the country recorded 49 cases.
Studies have shown that the main risk factors associated with oral cancers include alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking.
Mehanna in an article published on April 25, titled Oral Sex is now the leading risk factor for throat cancer made reference to a study he conducted in collaboration with a colleague with 1000 people who had tonsillectomy done for non-cancer reasons, 80 per cent of adults revealed participating in oral sex in their lives.
The medical professional said that the main cause of this oropharyngeal cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV).
“HPV is sexually transmitted. For oropharyngeal cancer, the main risk factor is the number of lifetime sexual partners, especially oral sex. Those with six or more lifetime oral-sex partners are 8.5 times more likely to develop oropharyngeal cancer than those who do not practise oral sex,” he said.
The researcher believes that HPV vaccines may be effective in preventing HPV infection in the mouth and suggests that the vaccine not only be administered to young girls but also to boys.