A new study has just been released that asserts a link exists between the rise in certain mouth cancers and the human papillomavirus. HPV can be sexually transmitted, and the HPV vaccine has been a contentious issue for years.
Oral cancer linked to sexually transmitted disease
The Journal of Clinical Oncology is publishing a study, according to the New York Times, that purports a link between a common sexually transmitted disease and a type of oral cancer. The findings indicate that mouth cancers can be caused by the human papillomavirus.
The study sought to explain the rise of oropharyngeal cancers, a type of mouth cancer that has previously been linked to HPV, according to USA Today. Oropharyngeal cancers, which often affect the throat and tongue, have become more frequently diagnosed than other oral cancers. The rate of oropharyngeal cancers in the population have increased by 28 percent since 1988, with about 10,000 cases per year.
Researchers tested the link by using tissue samples from cancer patients that have been stored over the years for HPV. They found that HPV was present in 16 percent of tissue samples in the late 1980s to 73 percent from recent years.
More frequent than cancer caused by tobacco
The study also found, according to CNN, that the incidence of oral cancers in HPV-positive patients rose by 225 percent in the samples, which were collected from 1984 to 2004. HPV-negative cancers dropped by 50 percent, which researchers attributed to declining use of tobacco.
They estimate that HPV is responsible for up to 70 percent of oropharyngeal cancers and attribute the remainder to tobacco, alcohol and other factors to the remaining 30 percent.
It isn’t clearly established that patients acquired an HPV infection from oral sex that led to cancer, but merely that the HPV was present in the oral cancer tissue, according to USA Today. However, 95 percent of the cancers, according to CNN, tested positive for HPV16.
HPV16 is a strain of HPV that is sexually transmitted and can cause cervical cancer in women. It is also the strain of HPV targeted by the vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix, made by Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, respectively. Merck, according to the New York Times, has previously funded the research of Dr. Maura Gillison of Ohio State University and lead author of the study, but did not contribute to this one, according to her.
Vaccine could conceivably prevent cancer
HPV is not a single virus, but is a class of about 200 similar viruses, according to Wikipedia. Fewer than 50 are sexually transmitted. Papillomaviruses generally cause warts, with a few strains producing genital warts and others producing common warts and plantar warts. The vaccines, according to ABC, protect against four types of the human papillomavirus, of which HPV16 is one.
One of the other authors of the study, Dr. Kevin Cullen, was quoted as saying that the HPV vaccine could possibly prevent oropharyngeal cancers and that the vaccine should also be given to boys, but that more research would be needed.
New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/04/health/research/04hpv.html
USA Today: http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/medical/cancer/story/2011-10-03/Cervical-cancer-virus-fuels-oral-cancer-type/50646024/1
Wikipedia on HPV: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/michele-bachmanns-hpv-vaccine-safety-retardation-comments-misleading/story?id=14516625
Do you have a fantastic idea related to this article, but just don't have the money you need to start your own company or side-business? Get the loans you need from https://personalmoneynetwork.com to help get your new company underway, from the small loan professionals at PersonalMoneyNetwork.