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Oral HPV Infection Strikes Men More Than Women: Study
Date:1/26/2012

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Almost 7 percent of American men and women are infected orally with the human papillomavirus (HPV), new research reveals, with men showing significantly higher infection rates than women.

In fact, the study found that among those between the ages of 14 and 69, men seem to face a nearly threefold greater risk than women for oral HPV infection.

The authors noted that the gender gap grows even wider with respect to HPV-16, a strain that is responsible for the vast majority of HPV-related cases of oral cancer. Men are five times more likely to be infected with HPV-16 than are women, the study found.

The biggest risk factors for oral HPV infection include sex and tobacco use, the researchers say.

"Our data link oral HPV infection to the number of sex partners and to smoking," said study author Dr. Maura Gillison, chair of cancer research in the department of viral oncology at Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus.

"This suggests that people might reduce their risk of infection by limiting the number of sex partners and not smoking cigarettes," she added. "[However] at this point, we don't know if consistent use of condoms or other barrier methods for oral sex will reduce oral HPV transmission."

She added that smoking is thought to raise the odds of oral HPV infection via either its suppressive effects on the immune system or by damaging the mucosal lining of the mouth.

Gillison and her team report the findings in the Jan. 26 online issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. They are also scheduled to present the results Thursday at the Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposium, in Phoenix.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that genital HPV infection remains the most common form of the sexually transmitted disease. To lower the associated
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