LONDON – A virus spread during oral sex is the main cause of throat cancer in people under 50 years of age.
Scientists say the human papilloma virus (HPV) spread during unprotected sex is to blame for a disturbing rise in potentially deadly oral cancers in the last few decades.
Doctors have called for boys to be vaccinated against HPV just like teenage girls to stop the spread of the disease.
HPV is best known as the cause of around 70 percent of cervical cancers. Since 2008, girls aged 12 and 13 have been vaccinated against the virus in schools. However, it can also cause warts and other cancers, the Daily Mail reports.
Cancers of the mouth and oropharynx – the top of the throat – used to be mainly diagnosed in older men who drink or smoke. But increasingly, it is being seen in younger men.
Maura Gillison of Ohio State University in Columbus said the sexually transmitted HPV was a bigger cause of some oral cancers than tobacco.
She said: “We don’t know from strict scientific evidence whether the vaccine will protect from oral HPV infections that lead to cancer,” according to a Ohio State University statement.
“Those of us in the field are optimistic it will – the vaccines in every anatomical site looked at so far have been shown to be extraordinarily effective, about 90 percent effective, at preventing infections.”