Tuesday, 14 August 2012
BREAKING NEWS: ONE IN 10 MEN HAVE THIS MYSTERIOUS STD
First-of-its-kind research from Ohio State University indicates oral HPV, a little-understood type of the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, is widespread and could be especially dangerous for men.
You’ve probably heard of HPV. It got plenty of attention earlier this year when Texas Gov. Rick Perry was called out by critics for his support of mandatory HPV vaccinations for young girls. But that was genital HPV, which has been linked to cervical cancer in women.
The OSU researchers were curious about oral HPV, and so they collected DNA samples from the mouths of 5,579 people between the ages of 14 and 69. The results: Seven percent of that group tested positive for oral HPV, and the infection rates jumped to 10 percent among men.
More from MensHealth.com: How to Lower Your STD Odds
Why should you be worried? Oral HPV has been linked to several head, neck, and throat cancers, and infection rates for those cancers have tripled in the U.S. during the last 8 years. In fact, those cancers are poised to overtake cervical cancer as the leading HPV-related illness by 2020, the study reports.
More bad news: The variation of oral HPV most closely tied to head and neck cancer was five times more common among men, explains study author Maura Gillison, M.D., Ph. D., a cancer specialist at OSU.
Before you freak out, understand that the particularly nasty type of oral HPV—the type that causes cancer—is present in just 1 percent of the population and 1.6 percent of men. Even if you have oral HPV, your chances of developing cancer are small. But Gillison says research into oral HPV is in its infancy, and so right now there are many more questions than answers.
How can you play it safe? Unfortunately, science is still working on best practices (and a vaccination). Oral HPV is assumed to be sexually transmitted, though researchers still aren’t sure: The study found that infection rates spiked to 20 percent among those who had slept with more than 20 people. Infection rates fell almost to zero among virgins, so it’s likely that wearing a condom during genital sex will lower your risk for infection, Gillison explains.
The researchers also don’t know if oral HPV is spread through oral sex, though it’s possible. They also can’t say whether using a “dental dam” or similar oral sex contraceptive will make a difference.