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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 467-468  

Oral sex and oral cancer: A virus link

Department of Periodontology and Oral Implantology, Rural Dental College Loni, Tehsil Rahata, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra 413 736, India

Date of Web Publication3-Sep-2011

Correspondence Address:
Rajiv Saini
Department of Periodontology and Oral Implantology, Rural Dental College Loni, Tehsil Rahata, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra 413 736
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0975-7406.84472

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How to cite this article:
Saini R. Oral sex and oral cancer: A virus link. J Pharm Bioall Sci 2011;3:467-8

How to cite this URL:
Saini R. Oral sex and oral cancer: A virus link. J Pharm Bioall Sci [serial online] 2011 [cited 2022 Aug 12];3:467-8. Available from:


Oral sex refers to sexual activities involving the stimulation of the genitalia by the use of the mouth, tongue, teeth, or throat. Oral sex is now very common in both heterosexual and homosexual couples. People may involve in oral sex as part of foreplay before sexual intercourse, or during or following intercourse. Oral sex may be practiced by people of all sexual orientations and the various types of oral sex performed are cunnilingus, fellatio, and analingus. [1] Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be transmitted through oral sex with an infected partner. The diverse conduit in the oral cavity that provides as a gateway of exposure of infection from the oral cavity to blood stream include any open sores, cuts, abrasions, or bleeding gum disease such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Current research suggests that oral sex may transmit human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus implicated in the majority of cervical cancers. HPV is ubiquitous, with 120 strains isolated from human beings, about 40 of which are in the mouth and genital tracts. In addition to mounting epidemiologic evidence, extensive laboratory evidence supports the association between HPV and a subset of cancers of the oropharynx. HPV is consistently and more frequently detected in cancers of the oropharynx and tonsil than at other head and neck sites, and HPV-16 tends to be the predominant type detected. [2] Accumulating molecular and pathologic evidence has strengthened the hypothesis that HPV infection could play a role in the etiology of some oral squamous cell carcinomas and in contrast to cervical and other genital cancers, there are limited epidemiologic data addressing the relationship between HPV infection and the development of oral cancer. [3] The association was similarly increased among subjects with oral HPV-16 infection, regardless of their tobacco and alcohol use. By contrast, tobacco and alcohol use increased the association with oropharyngeal cancer primarily among subjects without exposure to HPV-16. Oral HPV infection is strongly associated with oropharyngeal cancer among subjects with or without the established risk factors of tobacco and alcohol use. [4] There are several ways to reduce the risks of oral sex. Generally, the use of a physical barrier during oral sex can reduce the risk of transmission of HIV and other STDs. To reduce the risk of infection during unprotected oral sex, limit exposure to sexual fluids and ensure that no cuts or lesions are present in the mouth or on the genitals. A good oral health, free from bleeding gums, lip sores, cuts, broken skin, and oral epithelium, enormously reduces the chances of transmission of infection among the partners indulging in oral sex. [5]

   References Top

1.Saini R, Saini S, Sharma S. Oral sex, oral health and orogenital infections. J Global Infect Dis 2002;2:57-62.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Herrero R, Castellsagué X, Pawlita M, Lissowska J, Kee F, Balaram P, et al. Human papillomavirus and oral cancer: The international agency for research on cancer multicenter study. J Natl Cancer Inst 2003;95:1772-83.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Schwartz SM, Daling JR, Doody DR, Wipf GC, Carter JJ, Madeleine MM, et al. Oral cancer risk in relation to sexual history and evidence of human papillomavirus infection. J Natl Cancer Inst 2003;21:1626-36.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.D'souza G, Kreimer AR, Viscidi R, Pawlita M, Fakhry C, Koch WM, et al. Case control study of human papillomavirus and oropharyngeal cancer. N Engl J Med 2007;356:1944-56.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Saini R. Semen swallowing is safe: Oral sex focus. Chron Young Sci 2010;3:30.  Back to cited text no. 5

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