HPV virus 'more common in men'

27 January 2012

The oral human papillomavirus (HPV) virus that could cause cancer is more common in men, a new study has found.

Researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center found that in 5,500 people aged between 14 and 69, ten per cent of men had oral HPV compared to 3.6 per cent of women.
Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study also showed that this increased risk of the virus could heighten the likelihood of head and neck cancers in males.

Dr Maura Gillison wrote in the research paper: "Vaccine efficacy against oral HPV infection is unknown and therefore vaccination cannot currently be recommended for the primary prevention of oropharyngeal cancer."

She added that the findings may mean that HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancers could surpass the number of people diagnosed with invasive cervical cancers by 2020.

According to Macmillan Cancer Support, most people who are sexually active will have HPV at some time during their life. However, the majority of people will not experience any symptoms for some time.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

Gillison, Maura, et al., "Prevalence of Oral HPV Infection in the United States, 2009-2010", JAMA, January 2012.

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