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Oral Cancer-Causing HPV May Spread Through Oral and Genital Routes, Study Warns

Update Date: Nov 12, 2014 12:15 PM EST

The  transmission of human papillomavirus (HPV) may occur via oral-oral and oral-genital routes, according to a new study. The study found that HPV infections were more common among men who had female parters with oral and/or genital HPV infection. 

"HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world, and is a risk factor for several cancers, including cervical, vaginal, vulvar, oropharyngeal [throat/tonsil], anal, and penile cancer," said Eduardo L. Franco, Professor and Director of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology at McGill University, in the press release. 

"Understanding how HPV is transmitted is important because it will help us identify who is most at risk for HPV infection and how we can help them protect themselves and their partners," added Franco, who is also the Chairman of the Department of Oncology in the Faculty of Medicine. "Our work provides additional evidence that HPV is sexually transmitted to the oral tract through oral-oral and oral-genital contact."

Researchers looked at HPV infections in 222 men and their female partners and found that among men in the study the prevalence of oral HPV was 7.2 percent. The study underscored that finding that number were higher for men who were smokers and those who were in a non-monogamous relationships. 

The findings of the study were published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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