Painstaking academic research indicates that promiscuous oral sex can carry a higher risk of throat cancer than smoking or boozing.
A report based on a hospital study of 100 oropharyngeal cancer sufferers and 200 controls, carried out by Johns Hopkins scientists, appeared today in the New England Journal of Medicine. In it, the splendidly-named Dr Gypsyamber D'Souza and her co-authors make some noteworthy conclusions.
"A high lifetime number of vaginal-sex partners (26 or more) was associated with oropharyngeal cancer," the boffins wrote. It's hard to say what that really means in terms of rumpy-associated risk; but El Reg suggests that it does offer at least one piece of concrete info. Namely, that if you are a Johns Hopkins scientist, chances are you have done it with significantly less than 26 people.
According to the scientists, oral sex is a vastly more dangerous business than plain-vanilla rogering, with just six or more partners required to increase the danger of throat cancer. Again it seemed that the Johns Hopkins crew had perhaps led relatively quiet lives, as they considered that half-a-dozen was a "high" final score.
The increased multipartner-jigjig throat cancer risk was due to the likelihood of becoming infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), thought to be implicated in various kinds of cancer including the cervical variety.
The study appeared to suggest that throat-cancer risks from booze and cigs were insignificant compared to those from getting too frisky. Of course, that doesn't mean that drink and baccy are safer than the other things you might - in this context - put in your mouth. Oral sex doesn't (as far we as we know) cause liver failure or lung cancer. So don't log off that swingers' site and rush out for a sixpack or 20 Bensons just yet.
On the face of it, however, this really is excellent news for cigar fanciers, who seldom breathe the fumes of their chosen weed into their lungs and so avoid many of the risks faced by aficionados of the smaller, more economical paper-wrapped smoke. One of cigar-lovers' primary risks is that of cancer in the throat or mouth; and it now appears that this danger is actually insignificant.
Of course, certain circumstances leap to mind in which this might not be true. It seems possible that former US President Bill Clinton may be reading the New England Journal of Medicine with close attention this afternoon. ®