According to a recent study on HPV reported by MSNBC, more men than women are affected by HPV. The study shows about 10% of males aged 14 to 69 have an oral HPV infection, while only 3.6% of women are infected.
The orally-transmitted HPV can cause several different types of throat, tongue, and tonsil cancers. Carriers of HPV are 16 times more likely to contract these cancers than those without HPV.
However, for those who are infected with oral HPV, the risk of cancer is still low. Most carriers of HPV will never develop cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 40,000 people will develop cancer due to oral HPV next year. When that number is compared with the close to 15 million people infected with this virus, the amount of cancer cases is statistically low.
Dr. Maura Gillison, chair of cancer research at Ohio State University, stated that the study was “reassuring.” She feels reassured because most of the infected people will never develop cancer, a growing concern among research on HPV recently.
The findings in this report also note that most of the transmission of oral HPV is sexually related, either through oral sex or vaginal intercourse. The virus in on the rise though; between 1998 and 2004, instances of oral HPV nearly tripled in the United States.
In the HPV study, an analysis of the infected shows that the most common carriers are people between 60 to 64 years of age, and 30 to 34 years of age.
Health-industry experts encourage people who engage in any form of sexual activity to use protection. Experts are also interested to know if the HPV vaccination already in circulation is approved to work on the oral form of the virus.
The study also suggests that 20% of people who claim they smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day also have oral HPV. This link may occur due to immune system suppression caused by cigarettes; however, researchers do not have a definitive answer.
Research must also continue in trying to determine why males are more likely to contract the virus than females. For now, though, experts warn that at-risk demographics (the 30-34/60-64 year-old males) should properly educate themselves on the risks and treatments for this increasingly common disease.