Oral sex seems less safe in light of news that it could surpass tobacco as the main cause of oral cancer for Americans age 50 and under. Human papilloma virus, known as HPV, can be passed from genitals to mouths, and the presence of the virus can lead to oral cancer.
CNN speaks to a University of California, San Francisco professor of pediatrics who identifies oral sex as a major oral cancer risk factor for teens because the vast majority of oropharynx cancers, which grow in the middle of the throat, are caused by HPV.
“Adolescents don’t think oral sex is something to worry about. They view it as a way to have intimacy without having ‘sex.’”
The professor and fellow researches presented data that explains the risk at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Sunday. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 37,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year.