Number of Sex Partners Linked to Throat Cancers

Oral HPV infection acquired through sexual contact is strongly associated with developing throat cancer.

  • A study conducted at the John Hopkins Hospital, found that certain sexual behaviors in patients were significantly associated with their development of oropharyngeal (throat) cancer. The study revealed that the greater the number of lifetime vaginal-sex or oral-sex partners a person has, the greater his or her risk of developing oropharyngeal cancer. In addition, exposure to HPV-16 (Human Papilloma Virus) alone was responsible for 55 percent of the cases of oropharyngeal cancer in the study. Researchers concluded that there are two distinct pathways for the development of oropharyngeal cancer one pathway resulting from the carcinogenic effects of tobacco and/or alcohol and the other resulting from HPV exposure. In the HPV-related cases, vaccination can prove to be protective against HPV infection and to thus reduce the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer in these high-risk populations.1

1Case-Control Study of Human Papillomavirus and Oropharyngeal Cancer, New England Journal of Medicine 356;19 May 10,2007; pp. 1944-1956

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