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Does Oral Sex Cause Cancer?
Nov 19, 2005

Today (11/17/05) my girlfriend told me that she saw on the news, that oral sex causes cancer. It was on an American news station, however, I am not quite sure which one it was. I think she said Fox News. I live in Europe at the moment, so I can't exactly check the news myself and I couldn't find any information on oral sex being cancerous on the internet. And since I can't believe that it actually could be cancerous, I'm rather curious, as I have been rather active oraly.

So, is there something true about it, or is it just a type of scare tactic?

Thank you for your help.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Yeah, that sounds like just the kind of story Fox News loves to run. Here's what we know. Several studies have found a potential but tiny risk that oral sex can lead to cancer. It's really not anything new. We have long suspected that human papilloma virus (HPV), a common STD known to cause cervical and anal cancer, may be linked to some cases of oral cancer. The risk is estimated to be around 1 in 10,000 people who develop oral cancer.

The vast majority of oral cancers are caused by smoking and drinking, not HPV. No one is suggesting anyone alter their behavior because of this "news," except for maybe some sex-phobic folks on Fox and in the Religious Right. But they've been trying to keep folks from getting their groove on for years. Kind of like Dana Carvey's Church Lady on the old Saturday Night Live show.

So the take-home message here is that oral cancer is a rare disease and that tobacco and alcohol are by far the biggest causes.

Hope that calms your concerns.

Dr. Bob



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