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Oncologists warn against virus causing oral cancer

New Delhi: The transmission of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), very much possible during oral sex, causes cancer, two oncologists have warned.

Oncologists warn against virus causing oral cancer

They said that HPV, once transmitted, may not become active for years or may clear off from the body, but slowly becomes the prime cause of cancer.

"Oral cancer is caused mostly by HPV 16 virus and easily affects an undernourished person whose immune system may have been compromised. Mostly people who indulge in oral and unsafe sex are at higher risk," said Meghal Sanghavi, consultant oncology surgeon at the Wockhardt Hospitals.

A total of 20-25 percent oral cancers are caused by HPV transmission during oral sex, though merely five percent of the population is aware of the fact.

"Oral sex is one major way by which the HPV virus is transmitted. Basically, cancer may be caused at all sites where the HPV virus has been present for many years. If the person's immunity is reduced, it flourishes and may promote cancer at any spot, including in the anal and penile regions," said Sanghavi.

According to the doctors, 500,000 people worldwide are diagnosed with oral cancer every year.

"Oral sex raises the risk of cancer by 22 times. This is one of the easiest way for the HPV to get into human body and later affect other body parts too," said Jeevan Parikh, another Mumbai-based oncologist, who specialises in the treatment of oral cancers.

He said though there were not many studies on the subject, from practical evidence oral sex has emerged as one of the most important factors responsible for cancer.

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