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Can Oral Sex Give You Cancer?

a man with bananas near his mouth and face

A new study says, 'maybe.'

A new study published in the American Cancer Society’s peer-reviewed journal Cancer shows that having a large number of oral sex partners leads to a higher risk of contracting HPV-related cancer of the mouth and throat.

The study, done by a team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University, surveyed over 500 people about their sexual activity. One third of participants had been diagnosed with human papillomavirus (HPV) and about two-thirds had not.

According to the study, those who have had 10 or more prior oral sex partners have a 4.3 times higher likelihood of getting HPV-related cancer of the throat or mouth. Additionally, having oral sex at a younger age, having a large number of partners in a short period of time, and engaging in extramarital sex are also linked to higher rates of HPV-related cancers.

They also found that having genital-to-genital sex before oral sex lowers the risk for those participating. They say that if your initial exposure to HPV is through your genitals, it creates a “robust immune response” that better fights the virus than if introduced orally.

Dr. Virginia Drake, who conducted the study, says that “our study builds on previous research to demonstrate that it is not only the number of oral sexual partners, but also other factors not previously appreciated that contribute to the risk of exposure to HPV orally and subsequent HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer.”

Overall, the study doesn’t really indicate that blowjobs can give you cancer. It more accurately shows that those who engage in more and higher-risk sexual behavior have a higher chance of getting HPV, and therefore have a higher chance of HPV-related cancers.

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