Single Men, Smokers are at higher risk to Acquire Oral Cancer

Single Men, Smokers are at higher risk to Acquire Oral Cancer

Unmarried men, who smoke are at higher risk for oral cancer (HPV). HPV16 is known to cause cancer at multiple places in the body, including the oral cavity.

Young man smoking

According to a new study, single men who are regular smoker are more likely to acquire cancer-causing oral human papillomavirus (HPV). Researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center, the National Cancer Institute, Mexico and Brazil also examined that oral HPV infections in healthy men are rare and when present, usually resolve within a year. HPV infection is responsible for causing almost all cervical cancers, most anal cancers and some genital cancers.

The researchers have also established the fact that HPV infection is the main cause of the majority of oropharyngeal cancers, a malignancy of the tonsils and base of tongue. It is a rare one, but rates have been increasing rapidly, especially among men. To find out the pattern of HPV acquisition and persistence in the oral region, researchers assessed the HPV infection status in oral mouthwash samples collected as part of the HIM Study. It was originally intended to evaluate the natural history of genital HPV infections in healthy men.

Study lead author Christine M. Pierce Campbell, Ph.D., M.P.H., a postdoctoral fellow in Moffitt's Center for Infection Research in Cancer has said that some types of HPV, such as HPV16, are known to cause cancer at multiple places in the body, including the oral cavity. She also said that it was already known that HPV infection is associated with oropharyngeal cancer, but the progression of virus from initial infection to cancer in the oral cavity is unknown. One aspect of the HIM Study is to gather data to help the researchers understand the natural history of these infections.

The study was carried out on men and it has been observed that during the first 12 months, nearly 4.5 percent of men acquired an oral HPV infection. Less than 1 percent of men had an HPV16 infection, the most commonly acquired type, and less than 2 percent had a cancer-causing type of oral HPV. Their findings are consistent with previous studies showing a low prevalence of oral HPV cancers.

The study is published in The Lancet and it shows the acquisition of cancer-causing oral HPV appeared greater among smokers and unmarried men.

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