Having lots of oral sex at a young age can increase the risk of mouth cancer, experts have warned.
People who have had ten or more oral sex partners were found to be 4.3 times more likely to develop the disease, research showed.
Researchers also found the risk of human papillomavirus (HPV)-related mouth and throat cancer was higher among those who had lots of oral sex with different partners at a young age.
The team, from Johns Hopkins University in the US, asked 508 people about to divulge details about their oral sex lives and general health.
These included 163 people with oropharyngeal cancer – which affects the middle part of the throat, including the back of the tongue, the tonsils and the soft palate.
Experts have previously warned that men are up to four times more likely to develop HPV-related cancers linked to having oral sex than women.
The aim of the most recent study was to build on previous research in both men and women, the team said.
Otolaryngologist Virginia Drake, who authored the paper, said: “It is not only the number of oral sexual partners, but also other factors not previously appreciated that contribute to the risk of exposure to HPV orally and subsequent HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer.
“As the incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer continues to rise in the United States, our study offers a contemporary evaluation of risk factors for this disease.
“We have uncovered additional nuances of how and why some people may develop this cancer, which may help identify those at greater risk.”
The findings, published in the journal Cancer, revealed that having 10 or more oral sex partners was linked with an 4.3-fold increase in the likelihood of developing HPV-related mouth or throat cancer.
The highest risk was associated with those who had performed oral sex on several different people in a short period of time, according to Dr Drake’s team.
Age was another factor that could increase the chances of developing the disease.
The researchers also found that those who had older sexual partners in their youth were at higher risk of HPV-related cancer.
People who had extramarital sex were also found to be at an increased risk of developing the disease.
Anna Middleton, founder of London Hygienist, has previously warned about the increasing rise of HPV linked to oral cancer in young people.
She said: “This research is incredibly concerning, but one which does not come as a surprise, there have been increasing cases linking HPV to oral cancer in young people in recent years, so much so it could supersede alcohol and smoking as a risk associated with oral cancer.
“Currently around one in four mouth cancers and a third of all throat cancers are HPV related, but in younger patients most throat cancers are now HPV related.
“This risk factor should urge patients to visit their dental practice routinely for oral cancer screening.
“People need to be aware when engaging with sexual activity and take the right precautions.
“If you’re worried about HPV ensure you consult your GP and continue to see your dentist, dental hygienist or therapist regularly, practices are still open.
“Whatever you do, do not ignore any symptoms that last more than three weeks and if you are worried about coming to a clinic due to COVID-19, we can triage patients over video or phone call.”
This story originally appeared on The Sun and is republished here with permission.