Cancer researchers at University of Maryland discovered another serious health risk of unprotected sex. Cancers of the throat, neck and head have been increasing sharply in recent years, apparently because of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Also known as genital warts, this is the same sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer and is the target of a controversial, side-effect laden vaccine for girls.
This virus also can spread through oral sex, causing cancer of the throat and tonsils (oropharyngeal cancer), according to research conducted by Dr. Kevin J. Cullen and his team at the Greenebaum Cancer Center at University of Maryland. These findings were reported in the New York Times and in the September, 2009 issue of Cancer Prevention Research.
How did these Maryland researchers discover that cancer tumors in the head and neck were linked to HPV?
According to Dr. Cullen, researchers at the Greenebaum Cancer Center were exploring reasons for different survival rates from throat tumors in black and white patients who received the same medical treatments.
Dr. Cullen said that the tumors which were HPV-positive responded better to treatment of chemo and radiation than the tumors which were HPV-negative. Dr. Cullen said that about one-half of the tumors in white patients in the study were HPV-positive and only one black patient had a tumor caused by the virus.
If you subtracted out the HPV-positive patients in the study, there was no difference in survival rates between black and white patients. This challenges doctors to develop new treatment options for patients with HPV-negative tumors.
This study suggests that the racial gap in survival for this type of throat cancer may trace back to different sexual practices in blacks and whites, experts said.
Dr. Otis Brawley, medical director of the American Cancer Society, wrote an editorial that accompanied this research report. He said that changing sexual practices were increasing rates of head and neck cancers, and perhaps others as well. He concluded, “There is a huge public health message here.”
What is the message for our community of dating singles and couples seeking to spark up their relationship?
Be aware that certain types of cancer can be contagious, when caused by a virus that can be spread through any sexual contact–even if there are no visible signs of infection in either sexual partner.
How do you find out if you or your sexual partner have been exposed to HPV?
Although HPV can be found in men and women, the medical test for this sexually-transmitted disease (STD) is not used on men. The test currently is used on women to find high-risk types of HPV (types 16, 18, 31, and 45) that cause DNA changes in a woman’s cervix which show up on a pap smear.
Lower risk types of HPV cause genital warts that you can see or feel. According to WebMD, most people do not show any symptoms or know they have an HPV infection.
This gives you more incentive to practice safe sex. For anyone who thinks that oral sex doesn’t count as sex, these new medical findings reveal potential health risks in any form of sexual contact.
I hope you’ll use this information to create healthy relationships. And if you’re single and seeking your great love match, I invite you to claim a free, 30-day trial membership in the Singles Club of Tribe Of Blondes.
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