Can Oral Sex Really Lead To Cancer?

Can Oral Sex Really Lead To CancerActor Michael Douglas made headlines on Monday after telling The Guardian that his throat cancer may have been caused by the human papillomavirus transmitted through oral sex.

‘One possible cause’

HPV is a virus that’s transmitted through sexual contact — genital or oral. There are more than 40 types, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and approximately 79 million Americans are currently infected. Most people have no symptoms.

“HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives,” the CDC’s states. “In most cases, the virus goes away and it does not lead to any health problems. There is no certain way to know which people infected with HPV will go on to develop cancer.”

Douglas’ publicist told CNN that the actor did not intend to point to HPV as the sole cause of his throat cancer, but was suggesting it as one possible cause. Did oral sex bring about Michael Douglas’ cancer diagnosis? Not exactly.


‘Unprotected’

HPV is thought to cause 1,700 oropharyngeal, or throat, cancers in women and 6,700 oropharyngeal cancers in men each year, according to the CDC. Tobacco and alcohol use may play a role in who develops cancer from the virus, the government agency notes. The virus is transmissible regardless of whether the sexual contact is heterosexual or homosexual.

HPV has also been linked to cervical cancer, penile cancer and anal cancer, according to the CDC. The HPV vaccine prevents the most common types of the virus. There are two approved for use in the United States: Gardasil and Cervarix.

Of course, HPV is not the only danger of having unprotected oral sex. Sexually transmitted diseases like herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea and HIV can be also be spread through the act. To stay safe, the CDC recommends always using a condom and getting tested regularly.

Do you believe oral sex can indeed lead to cancer? Feel free to throw in your thoughts regarding this health issue!

Source: Jacque Wilson, CNN

Image: Philly.com

Baby Born With HIV ‘Functionally Cured’ With Early Intervention

Baby Born With HIV 'Functionally Cured' With Early InterventionA 2-year-old Mississippi girl is the first child to be “functionally cured” of HIV, researchers announced Sunday. Researchers said they believe early intervention — in this case within 30 hours of birth — with three anti-viral drugs was key to the outcome. A “functional cure” is when the presence of the virus is so small, lifelong treatment is not necessary and standard clinical tests cannot detect the virus in the blood.

‘No prenatal care’

The finding was announced at the 2013 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta. The unidentified girl was born HIV-positive to a mother who received no prenatal care and was not diagnosed as HIV-positive herself until just before delivery.

Researchers have long known that treating HIV-positive mothers early on is important, because they pass antibodies on to their babies. HIV-positive mothers given appropriate treatment pass the virus on in less than 2% of cases. Usually, these infants would get anti-viral drugs at preventative doses for six weeks to prevent infection, then start therapy if HIV is diagnosed.

‘Reached undetectable levels’

Investigators say the Mississippi case may change that practice because it highlights the potential for cure with very early standard antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART is a combination of at least three drugs used to suppress the virus and stop the progression of the disease. But they do not kill the virus. Tests showed the virus in the Mississippi baby’s blood continued to decrease and reached undetectable levels within 29 days of the initial treatment..

Researchers say the only other documented case of an HIV cure is that of Timothy Brown, the “Berlin patient.” In 2007, Brown, an HIV-positive American living in Germany, was battling both leukemia and HIV when he underwent a bone marrow transplant that cured not only his cancer but his HIV as well. In an interview last year, Brown told Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, he was still HIV-free.

Do you think that a definite cure for HIV will be available very soon? Tell us what you think of the Mississippi girl’s case.

Source: Saundra Young, CNN

Image: NY Daily News