It is a known fact that HPV could cause head and neck cancer. This fact has been reaffirmed by a recent study which has revealed that HPV can increase the risk of head and neck cancer nearly seven-fold.
The silver lining is that a vaccine can easily prevent HPV, and a mere mouthwash test can tell a doctor which person is most at risk.
The study conducted at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine has identified HPV-16 as a cause of increased risk.
However, there are other strains of the oral HPV virus which have also been linked to increased likelihood of cancer. It indicates a larger role of HPV to cause diseases than thought before.
Earlier it was thought that HPV caused cervical cancer in women and oral cancer in men.
It led to the practice of starting vaccine in the early teens before people are expected to be exposed to the virus.
Sexual contact commonly spreads some strains of HPV. However, HPV-16 could be transmitted by oral sex and kissing.
Scientists took data from 96650 without cancer. Mouthwash from all the participants was taken under the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort and the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial.
Every participant was followed up for more than 3.9 years.
It was revealed in the trial that 132 people had developed head or neck cancer.
People with traces of HPV virus in their mouthwash were found to 22 times more likely to develop oropharyngeal cancer.
The study further hinted that that beta- and gamma-HPVs, which typically affect the skin, could also lead to the development of certain forms of cancers.