Can Kissing Increase the Risk of Mouth Cancer?

Researchers have long cited smoking as the leading culprit behind various cancers, particularly head and neck types. Recently, however, studies suggest that kissing increases your risk of getting oral cancer more than smoking.

Kissing and the Human Papillomavirus

oral cancerMore non-smokers develop cancers due to the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a common infection contracted through skin-to-skin contact, such as French kissing. The virus can survive for days in the mouth and genitals of both male and female. If not resolved soon, it can lead to cervical cancer for women with HPV.

So how does HPV put you at greater risk of mouth cancer?

According to Cancer Research UK, around 8 out of 10 people will most likely contract HPV in the future. Fortunately, there is no need to panic because only 15 out of the hundred different types can cause cancer. Known as ‘high-risk’, these HPV types pose higher threats of oral cancer development due to persistent infections.

High-Risk HPV and Its Role in Oral Cancer

HPV’s effect on your body and cancer development is indirect. The infection begins in the deepest layers of the skin, which leads to the rapid division of viruses. In other high-risk cases, HPV also damages your cell’s DNA, causing out-of-control growth and development of oral cancer.

HPV continues to be a significant cause of oral cancer, next to drinking alcohol and smoking. The National Health Service reports 35% of throat cancers and 25% are HPV-related. Cancer Research UK also reports 40% of mouth cancer cases linked to HPV infection.

Will Kissing Give You Oral Cancer?

Dr Mahiban Thomas, head of Maxillofacial and Head and Neck Surgery at the Royal Dawrwin Hospital in Australia, believes that kissing more than six people increases the risk for HPV. While some are not for the claim, it is still undeniable that kissing is a form of HPV transmission.

There remains no solid evidence on whether kissing can increase risk of developing oral cancer. Still, it is important to take necessary precautions to protect yourself, and kiss your loved one at the same time.

Have yourself checked with Warrendale Dental Care’s oral cancer screening. Get in touch with us now for more information.