According to a study, kissing has overtaken smoking and drinking to become the primary risk factor for developing head and neck cancers.
How is that possible? You may wonder. Dr Mahiban Thomas, who is head of maxillofacial and head and neck surgery at the Royal Darwin hospital, warned that kissing (a peck on the cheek) can pass on HPV (human papilloma virus) – a family of viruses which can lead to cancer.
He says that according to studies coming out of America, around 70 per cent of head and neck cancers are due to HPV.
HPV’s link to cancer is well known, but it is usually associated with cervical cancer. But why the sudden rise?
Dr Thomas says this is due to changing attitudes, particularly in our younger generations, that oral sex is safe because you can’t get pregnant.
‘High-risk behaviours are oral sex, multiple kissing partners, and more recently there are reports even “petting” can lead to infection
‘If someone has kissed in excess of six people their risk of contracting HPV is higher, or if someone has kissed in excess of nine people the risk is significantly higher again.’