What To Know About The Links Between Oral Sex And Cancer

The mounting evidence linking oral sex and cancer has firmly placed cunnilingus on the list of "life's greatest pleasures that might kill you," which includes (but is not limited to) drinking, smoking, soda, deep-fried-everything, and smoked meats. (Cue Homer Simpson drool). Although tongues wagged in 2013 when Michael Douglas revealed his throat cancer was possibly caused by the HPV virus transmitted through oral sex, this indictment was based upon years of scientific research that put all oral sex lovers on blast. "It's a sexually transmitted disease that causes cancer," he told The Guardian. "And if you have it, cunnilingus is also the best cure for it." Badum tss.

Sure, we could lament the scientifically proven links between oral sex and certain kinds of mouth and throat cancer, or we could educate ourselves about them so we can live our lives giving and/or receiving pleasure without panicking. To be clear, there is no one saying that oral sex causes cancer — it's the HPV virus that can cause a variety of cancers, from mouth and tongue to cervical and anal — so don't get all sex-negative and damn the practice before getting the facts.

Here are 5 scientifically-sourced facts about the links between oral sex and cancer:

1. Men Are More Than Twice As Likely To Get Oral Cancer

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According to leading research, men are more than twice as likely to get oropharyngeal cancer than women are. Scientists suggest this might be because the HPV virus can be found in greater concentrations on vulvar skin, which links back to the whole oral sex thing. Since there haven't been studies on queer women who engage in oral sex and their cancer rates, we're stuck with the straights for evidence.

2. Those Infected With HPV-16 Are 32 Times More Likely To Develop Oral Cancer

A new study published in JAMA Oncology is the first to put forth conclusive evidence that the presence of HPV-16 in the mouth leads to the development of oropharyngeal cancer, according to The Daily Mail.

3. Smoking And HPV Can Be A Lethal Combination

A suppressed immune system and poor health does impact whether the HPV virus takes hold. Studies by leading oral cancer researcher Dr. No-Hee Park have revealed how the combined toxicity of tobacco and HPV accelerates the possibility for cancer growth.

4. The Transmission Rate For HPV Infection From Oral Sex Is Still Unknown

According to the CDC, there is no known percentage or rate at which people are likely to be infected with HPV from oral sex or kissing. So have at it, but remember to play it safe.

5. Dental Dams, HPV Testing, And The HPV Vaccine Can Help

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Dental dams, frequent HPV tests, and even the HPV vaccine (for those eligible) are all ways to combat this potentially cancer-causing virus. That said, if you've been diagnosed, it's not a death sentence, and here are ways to cope if you and/or someone you're intimate with has the virus.

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