Oral sex might be the new smoking. New research has found that oral sex may cause more cases of throat cancer in men than smoking thanks to HPV transmissions. In 2004, HPV caused 2.6 cases of throat cancer per 100,000 people, compared to .8 cases per 100,000 people in 1998. At this rate, by 2020 HPV will result in more throat cancer in both men and women than cervical cancer.
What’s making the rate go up? A higher rate of going down. Cancer researchers told the New York Times that younger people are having more oral sex because they think it’s safer than intercourse. In addition to increasing awareness about the risks associated with oral sex, there may be another solution already available.
The HPV vaccines currently recommended for girls could probably help prevent throat cancer when given to boys. Vaccine companies would have to test the drugs for that purpose specifically, and then health professionals would have to convince parents to vaccinate their boys against HPV. But maybe that would be easier than it’s been to vaccinate girls against a potentially deadly, yet common STD, since society doesn’t have the same hang-ups with male sexuality.