oral-to-oral and oral-to-genital routes.Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the US, newly infecting 14 million Americans every year.
High-risk HPV infections – such as HPV 16 and HPV 18 – account for around 5% of cancers worldwide, including oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the throat). It is estimated that each year, around 8,400 people are diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancers that may be caused by oral HPV infection.
It is unclear how people contract oral HPV and is a subject that has been widely debated in medical research. Some studies have suggested that the virus can be contracted through oral sex with a person who has a genital HPV infection, while others have claimed the infection can be spread through engaging in open-mouthed kissing with a person infected with oral HPV. However, many studies have not found such associations.
Now, researchers from Canada say their new study – published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention – offers more evidence that HPV transmission can occur through oral-to-oral and oral-to-genital contact with an infected person.
Oral Health as an Independent Risk Factor
Researchers from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston analyzed data from the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and found that the participants who reported bad oral health had a 56% higher risk of developing oral HPV infection compared with those who had good oral health.
The good news is by maintaining good oral hygiene , one can lower HPV infection risk and subsequent HPV-related cancers.