HPV and oral cancers: the explanation?

The LA Times this morning reports on a new study showing than about 7% of American teens and adults carry the human papillomavirus in their mouths and this is a probable cause for much of the increase in mouth and throat cancer over the past 25 years.  Where does the HPV in the mouth come from?  From oral sex.  And people believe oral sex is safer than intercourse.  There seemed to be a correlation between the rate of infection and the frequency of oral sex.

Why are some people more affected than others?  As one researcher noted, perhaps the incidence in older people is because their immune systems are weaker.  What were the recommendations?  Education is one and that makes sense.  Inform people that they need to use “protection” for oral sex just as they do for intercourse.  It is possible that the HPV vaccines would be helpful, for boys and for girls, even though we don’t know if they will work for oral cancers.

To this I say “Wait a minute!”  Please understand that I am sympathetic to anyone who is experiencing an illness, including cancer.  My idea of prevention, however, is NOT vaccination.  Vaccines are not without their side effects.  I assume, people being who we are, that oral sex has been around just about as long as humans have existed.  Why now are we seeing more oral cancer?  Why now have we identified more virulent strains of HPV?

Instead of using the FEAR argument: “if you don’t take this vaccine, you are more likely to get cancer,”  how about approaching this from the “love” argument?  I don’t mean more sex.  Sex is not the same as love.  Here I mean love for one’s body.  I mean respect for the intelligence of our body.  We don’t expect our car to last many years without properly caring for them.  The same goes for our body.  People, especially young people, nowadays are not as healthy as previous generations for several reasons.  The food we are eating is not as nourishing, our diets are lousy, we are assaulted by a multitude of new chemicals and toxins humans never had to deal with before, and we don’t get enough sleep.

When people are not healthy, they are more vulnerable to getting cancer.  On that basis, when people practice healthier life styles, they are less vulnerable to getting cancer.  It seems to me, therefore, the answer to the problem of the increased rate of cancer is to take a serious look at how we are treating our body and make the changes we need to in order to become strong again.

About Cathie Lippman, M.D.

I invite you to visit my website: http://www.cathielippmanmd.com/
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