Common STD increases risk of oral cancer in men


A sexually transmitted disease is increasingly becoming a risk factor for oral cancer in men, according to a recent study.

According to a Feb. 1 article in the Washington Times, a study released by the Journal of Clinical Oncology reported that cases of human papillomavirus-related oral cancers have been on the rise since 2000.

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute and Johns Hopkins University found that though tobacco and alcohol consumption were the leading risks for oral cancer in the past, these risks are declining and HPV-related risks are rising, according to the article. The researchers found that men were more likely than women to have HPV-related oral cancers; 73 percent of the 17,626 cases studied were men.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, HPV is sexually transmitted and affects about 20 million people.

Nikki Kay, media officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the CDC does not have any information or recent research about HPV and its relation to oral cancer.

Annisa Shockey, president of Sexual Health Awareness Peer Educators and senior in biology, said the organization provides general information to students of both sexes about how to sexually protect oneself. However, the group does not have any information about HPV-related oral cancers in men since the research is new.

Carol Kennedy, director of health promotion/nutrition counseling at Lafene Health Center and SHAPE adviser, said she also did not have any information about the new study, either.

“It’s my understanding that oral cancer by HPV is contracted through oral sex, so using a dental band might protect a little bit,” Kennedy said, “but there’s not a lot of information about it.”

The Gardasil vaccine helps protect recipients against four types of HPV, but it covers cervical, not oral, cancer, and it has not been approved for men, according to the CDC Web site.

Kennedy said she is not aware of any vaccinations available for men that can protect against cancer.