“I did not have sexual relations with that woman...”
Ten points if you can name the famous former American President that uttered that infamous line.
It’s a shame that one misleading statement, and technically incorrect statement, will be a huge part of his legacy. Because the truth is though Mr. President didn’t have sexual intercourse
with the woman in question, he did indeed have sexual relations
Yes, oral sex is sex. And the latest research shows it can increase your cancer risk.
This is a crucial message for anyone, especially teens and young adults, thinking they can engage in risky sex as long as there isn’t any vaginal penetration. Many seem to think oral sex is okay because it isn’t “real” sex. Wrong. Oral sex is just as real and just as risky.
One of those risks is human papilloma virus, or HPV. The alarming fact is that HPV may now surpass tobacco as the leading cause of oral cancer in America in people under 50.
According to Bonnie Hapern-Felsher, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, “Adolescents don’t think oral sex is something to worry about. They view it as a way to have intimacy without having ‘sex.’”
The latest study involving the risks of contracting HPV infection suggest that 64% of oropharynx cancers – those cancers that occur in the middle part of the throat – in America are caused by HPV. Surprisingly enough, the percentage caused by tobacco products is lower. Also, there is a direct correlation between the risk and the number of partners you’ve had oral sex with. The Oral Cancer Foundation tells us that about 37,000 people a year are diagnosed with oral cancer.How common is HPV?
There are 130 strains of HPV and most everyone has had at least one of them. Gardasil and Cervarix, the vaccines used to protect people from the virus, only offer protection against a few of them. Fortunately, not all HPV strains cause cancer. Some strains cause benign warts on the hands and feet.
Worldwide, HPV causes about 5% of all cancers. You’d be surprised where some of these cancers show up, too. A study conducted at the University of Washington found one strain of HPV is fairly commonly found under men’s fingernails. This strain can lead to digital squamous cell carcinoma. Good hand washing can prevent that particular kind of cancer. The HPV mystery.
Why HPV can cause cancer in some and others remain unaffected isn’t clearly understood. When the cervix is affected, 70% of infections will take care of themselves in a year’s time and 90% within two years. It’s the remaining 10% that causes problems.
One way to prevent sexually transmitted HPV infection is to make sure condoms are used . . . even during oral sex. Another is circumcision, though neither completely removes the risk of infection. An ongoing study has found that couples “swap” the virus back and forth which may explain why it takes so long for the virus to clear up on its own.
Trying to get teens and young adults to take the risks of oral sex seriously is difficult. Getting them to use a condom is almost equally as hard. However, the potential long-term consequences are quite real.
If you’re a parent, you should seriously consider having frank discussions with your teenagers about oral sex. Let them know that oral sex is still sex and though participation may not lead to a historical legacy as one President experienced, it could still be a life-changing decision.