Single Male Smokers Have Highest Risk Of Oral Cancer

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A study has revealed that single male smokers have the highest risk of developing oral cancer.

The study, which was published in The Lancet, found that single men who live alone and smoke have the highest risk of contracting the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is linked to oral cancer. HPV is a very common viral infection, which is usually spread through sexual contact.

The study also found that the virus is relatively uncommon in healthy men and tends to linger within the body for less than 12 months.

Although HPV has been identified to be associated with oral cancer, which has become increasingly prevalent over the last decade, smoking remains the major risk factor. Around half of smokers die from illness directly related to smoking, including mouth cancer and many other forms.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said that more needs to be done to raise awareness of the risk factors associated with oral cancer. In the last ten years alone, the number of cases has almost doubled with experts predicting that this trend will continue in the future. Unlike other forms of cancer, survival rates have stalled because many are unaware of the causes and symptoms of oral cancer. As a consequence of this ignorance, most cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage when the chance of survival is much lower.

Dr Carter said that the lack of awareness about HPV was particularly worrying, as around 1 in 5 cases are believed to be linked to the virus, which is also a cause of cervical cancer and some forms of male cancer.

The British Dental Health Foundation is calling for a vaccination against HPV to be introduced to men in the UK. The vaccination is already available to teenage girls and an immunisation programme for men is in place in Australia.

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