Good news, bad news on the sexual front….

The bad news first, and it is bad.

In case you haven’t heard, scientists have established a link between oral sex and throat cancer. Here’s the scoop from my favorite sex columnist, Dan Savage:

“Researchers believe,” reports New Scientist, “[that] oral sex may transmit human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus implicated in the majority of cervical cancers,” and the virus lodges in the throat, where it can cause cancer. Study subjects infected with HPV were 32 times more likely to develop throat cancer; folks who tested positive for one highly aggressive strain of the virus, HPV-16, were 58 times more likely to develop throat cancer. Smoking, previously believed to be the culprit behind most throat cancers, only triples a person’s risk. (A new slogan for the tobacco industry: “Smoke cigs, not pole.”)
But before we panic—it’s just one study—let’s put throat cancer in perspective.

Despite the fact that nearly all Americans engage in oral sex, throat cancer accounts for a tiny percentage of the roughly 1.5 million cases of cancer diagnosed every year. According to the Cancer Facts & Figures report released by the American Cancer Society in 2007, we will see 35,000 cases of oral cancer this year—that’s tongue, mouth, pharynx, and “other oral cavity.” That compares to 271,000 cases of digestive-system cancers, 229,000 cases of respiratory cancers, 220,000 cases of prostate cancer, and 180,000 cases of breast cancer.
And let’s put HPV in perspective, too. While most sexually active adults are exposed to HPV at some point, our immune systems usually “clear” the virus on their own. So not every HPV exposure leads to infection, and not every HPV infection is lifelong. Clearly, men and women need to keep an eye on their throats—and researchers are, according to reports, working on a saliva test for HPV—because when it comes to cancer, early detection saves lives.

Now the good news. The new HPV vaccine offers women protection against the virus–100% protection if the vaccine is given before she becomes sexually active. Until now, as you probably know, the Religious Right has been doing everything it can to block approval and distribution of this vaccine because (get out your vapors) the very idea of young women having sex makes them swoon! And hey, after all, cervical cancer is a woman’s problem.

As Savage points out, expect the debate around the HPV vaccine to shift really fast.

Here’s the headline from my morning paper: “HPV Factors in Throat Cancer: Study Could Shift Debate About Vaccine.” You bet it will. Up to now the HPV vaccine—which, again, has proven 100 percent effective against the cancer-causing strains of the virus—could merely prevent 10,000 cases of cervical cancer in American women every year, along with 4,000 deaths. But now the debate could shift—it will shift—because it’s no longer “just” the lives of 4,000 American women that are on the line, but the sex lives of 150 million American men.
“If men got pregnant,” goes the bumper sticker, “abortion would be a sacrament.” Now that straight men can get cancer from eating pussy, the HPV vaccine is going to go from controversial to sacramental faster than you can say, “Suck my dick.”

Or, “Not on my life, baby!”

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22 Comments

Filed under 08_brynn

22 responses to “Good news, bad news on the sexual front….

  1. Now that straight men can get cancer from eating pussy

    Yeah, right. More like “Now that straight ministers can get cancer from meth-fueled romps with gay hookers” you mean.

  2. christine

    “Up to now the HPV vaccine—which, again, has proven 100 percent effective against the cancer-causing strains of the virus”

    Can we please get some facts straight here… Gladisile (sp??) covers 10 strains of HPV. Two or four of which can lead to cervical cancer and the rest genital warts. There are well over 100 strains of HPV and something like 10 that can lead to cervical cancer and I don’t know how many to genital warts.

    But, yeah, you’re right “they” will probably change their tune because men can get throat cancer like women can.

  3. Jay in Oregon

    Now that straight men can get cancer from eating pussy

    What do you think the intersection of set A (“people who oppose distribution of the PV vaccine on the grounds that it encouages promiscuity”) and set B (“men who regularly go down on their female partners”) is?

    15? 20, tops?

  4. Imagine the straight ministers that enjoy eating pussy AND meth-fueled romps with gay hookers. Oh my stars! Pass the vaccination, please!

  5. I think it’s vanishingly small, Jay, but I think that if you combine set A with set C (“men who expect blow jobs as their God-given right”) the statistics change significantly.

  6. Jay, I had similar thoughts. I can all too easily see this as fuel for chauvinistic men who think that women should give them blow jobs, but would never themselves dream of reciprocating.

  7. Yeah, but really men should have to get the vaccine too, because the HPV lives in men mostly on the scrotum. If men didn’t carry HPV then women wouldn’t need to be vaccinated.

    To sum up, there should be free vaccinations for everyone.

    Forgive me if I am missing a piece from Savage’s column or Brynn’s post, I feel like I might be.

  8. Morgan

    I heard this early and I don’t get why it’s such a big deal. We know we can get STDs though oral sex, so it just made sense in my head that HPV is something to worry about no matter what you choose to do in bed. The lesson, get HPV vaccine if you can, and use a condem even during oral sex when your with someone that hasn’t been tested. I agree though that another study coming out will help push HVP into public consuption. I also agree with the worry that this will be used to not eat pussy. But there are so many excuses to not eat pussy that I think this will be just an extra one added to spice things up, I don’t think any less men wont do it. Plus if a guy actually uses this excuse, maybe that will lead to a disscussion of getting the HPV vaccine, and then he has no excuse. QUESTION: I know HPV does not protect against all strands, but does it really protect against all cancer causeing stands? I was under the impression it simply acts like a vaccine. Example; a chicken pox vaccine lowers your chance of getting chicken pox, but if exposed you could still get a light dose of it. I am not stupid enough to think you would get a light dose of cancer, I just think the vaccine makes it harder for a strand to stick, but it is still possible for a cancer strand to not be fought off.

  9. Despite the fact that nearly all Americans engage in oral sex

    As a strict adherent to sexual libertine activities beginning in the late Sixties, even with the decline of puritanism in the decades since, I’d like Savage to quantify that with actual studies. Nearly ALL? I doubt it.

    But back to his central point: what we’ll get is a faith-based program demanding abstinence from nibbling nookie. Which will sell well to Republicans because Republican nookie is as enticing as Cod liver oil in a dressing of limburger cheese. And Republican mouths are far more toxic than any other known virus; more women die from what comes outa those mouths than anything they put in.

    The HPV vaccine is simply good science and should be sold on the strength of logic, not by fear-based strategies targeting moralistic men who are dumber than dirt.

  10. so that explains what happened to my singing voice. . .

  11. ShockedISaid

    And Republican mouths are far more toxic than any other known virus; more women die from what comes outa those mouths than anything they put in.

    Bravo!

  12. Republican mouths are far more toxic than any other known virus; more women die from what comes outa those mouths than anything they put in.

    Right. On.

  13. burnt toast

    “The HPV vaccine is simply good science and should be sold on the strength of logic, not by fear-based strategies targeting moralistic men who are dumber than dirt.”

    …but first, let’s mix the vaccine with mercury to increase the self life.

    will be interesting to see results on male vaccination… anyone know if there are significant differences in HPV infection between lesbian – hetero – gay demographics?
    …or if it’s even been studied?

    thanks Brynn

  14. “men who expect blow jobs as their God-given right”) the statistics change significantly.

    My point exactly! (I should’ve stated it more articulately.)

    And Republican mouths are far more toxic than any other known virus; more women die from what comes outa those mouths than anything they put in.

    I’ll third or fourth that!!!

  15. Shit. My throat should be rotted out by now. 😉

  16. PortlyDyke

    I’d like Savage to quantify that with actual studies. Nearly ALL? I doubt it.

    Ok — everyone here who has engaged in oral sex — give the thumbs up.

  17. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Hmmm…it seems that being plain, poor, physically and socially awkward, and timid about disease risks has a few advantages…

  18. PortlyDyke

    Ok — everyone here who has engaged in oral sex — give the thumbs up.

    Having a Ferris moment here . . . . Anyone? . . . Anyone?

  19. Phoenician in a time of Romans

    Now that straight men can get cancer from eating pussy, the HPV vaccine is going to go from controversial to sacramental faster than you can say, “Suck my dick.”

    Well, that’s fairly simple – we men will just have to give up eating pussy. For health reasons.

    What? Why is everyone looking at me like that?

  20. PortlyDyke

    OK pidomon — apparently it’s you and me against the world. Maybe Kevin Hayden is right, after all.

  21. Hmmm, PD, probably just a dying thread. Also, I think if you’d stated the question, “received and/or given” oral sex, you might get a few more responses. In my experience, a woefully large number of guys shy away from eating pussy; those same guys wouldn’t turn down a bj no matter the gender of the giver.

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