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Gross? Yes. Shocking? Definitely. Important to know? Absolutely.
According to CBSNews.com, a recent study revealed the leading cause of oral cancer to be...none other than oral sex!
How can this be, you may ask? According to scientists, 64% of cancers of the oral cavity, head, and neck in the U.S. are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus is commonly spread by oral sex, which means that the more oral sex you have, as well as the more partners you have, the more you'll be at risk.
"An individual who has six or more lifetime partners - on whom they've performed oral sex - has an eightfold increase in risk compared to someone who has never performed oral sex," Ohio State University's Dr. Maura Gillison, said at a recent scientific meeting.
This may have a huge impact on teens, who typically think oral sex is "casual, socially acceptable, inconsequential, and significantly less risky to their health than 'real' sex," Dr. Gillison and colleagues wrote in a statement.
"Parents and health educators are not talking to teens about oral sex. Period." said Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco.
In addition to talking to their children about it, parents should also vaccinate both daughters and sons against the virus. HPV may be most known for causing cervial cancer in girls, but boys are not off the hook entirely.
"When my patients ask whether they should vaccinate their sons, I say 'certainly," Gillison said. "The vaccine will protect them against genital warts and anal cancer and also as a potential byproduct of that it may protect them against oral cancer caused by HPV."