Monday, June 10, 2013

HPV Infections and Throat Cancer Risk

Most people have heard about HPV (Human Papillomavirus) infections in the genital area. Actor Michael Douglas' recent revelation that his oral cancer is caused by HPV, must have been difficult for him to speak about; but it brought to the forefront a health issue that many in the medical community have known for a time; that some forms of oral cancer are caused by HPV. Raising awareness of this health risk is helpful in preventing infections.

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There are approximately 100 different types of HPVof which there are nearly 40 different types that can infect the genitalia (penis, vagina, vulva, anus), mouth and throat. Not all types can cause cancer, but some do. There are approximately 13 - 15 strains that can cause cancer.

Any sexually active person can become infected.  For a list of ways to reduce your risk, click here.

Other lifestyle factors that raise your risk of developing oral cancer are smoking and alcohol consumption. Not smoking, limiting alcohol intake and reducing your risk of exposure to HPV through sexual activity can go a long way in helping to prevent HPV infections and oral (throat) cancers.

Photo Attribution: Public Domain, from Wikimedia Commons, U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 2nd Class Stephen P. Weaver (Taken at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily on Jun. 19, 2004).

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