Regularly performing oral sex reportedly increases the likelihood of contracting several types of cancer by way of a common virus.
According to Daily Mail, oral sex was previously linked with human papillomavirus (HPV), which typically causes no harm. But, in rare instances, HPV can lead to cancer due to the changes it triggers in infected cells.
Found in the penis, vagina, mouth and anus, the extremely common virus is spread by skin-to-skin contact in addition to sexual intercourse. Oral sex is believed to be the primary way HPV enters the mouth.
In a recent study conducted at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine, researchers collected mouthwash samples from nearly 97,000 healthy people. After four years, they found participants who were carrying HPV in their mouths were up to 22 times more likely to develop a tumor than those without HPV.
Researchers linked HPV to head and neck cancers, which were contracted by 132 participants.
Dr. Ilir Agalliu of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine reportedly said,
This study shows using easily collected oral mouthwash samples may help in predicting people's risk for developing head and neck cancers.
Men apparently have a higher chance of developing throat cancer than women because diseases are more easily contracted via cunnilingus as opposed to fellatio.
Previous research also suggested smoking and drinking may increase the risk of HPV transmission.
Mouth and throat cancers reportedly affect approximately half a million people per year and kill about 150,000.
The Albert Einstein College of Medicine study was originally published in JAMA Oncology.
Citations: Oral sex 'raises the risk of getting cancer by 22 times' (Daily Mail), Associations of Oral α-, β-, and γ-Human Papillomavirus Types With Risk of Incident Head and Neck Cancer (JAMA Oncology)