Majority of oral cancer cases traced to HPV

Researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center have uncovered some startling statistics about the human papillomavirus (HPV). According to their study, around 7 percent of teens and adults in the U.S. are carriers of oral HPV, and the overwhelming majority of cases of oral cancer, around 70 percent, can be traced back to the disease.

The researchers analyzed data from thousands of individuals who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2009 and 2010. Participants filled out a detailed survey, underwent a physical examination and provided an oral rinse containing cells that were then tested for HPV.

The study hopes to illuminate the recent spike in the number of oropharyngeal cancers in the U.S., which increased around 225 percent between 1988 and 2004. Researchers believe that oral HPV is transmitted primarily through oral-to-genital sexual conduct.

"There is a strong association for sexual behavior, and that has important implications for public health officials who teach sexual education," said Dr. Maura L. Gillison, leader of the study.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aside from getting vaccinated, individuals can prevent the spread of HPV by wearing condoms during all sexual activity, including oral sex. However, it is important for them to remember that HPV can still be transmitted via areas of the body that are not covered by a condom. Comprehending such crucial STD facts is essential for sexually active adults.

Typically, HPV has no symptoms, and most people's immune systems can take on the disease and eliminate it quickly. However, in some cases it may lead to warts, cervical cancer or other types of cancer. Health institutes have urged both men and women to get vaccinated for HPV.

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