This common sexual act could be extremely damaging to your health
What are five words you never want to hear? Maybe, "There's no more pizza left"? Or how about, "Donald Trump wins 2020 election"? Or - now here's a bad one - "Time to pay the rent"? Well, as terrible as all of those are; here's one combination of words that's almost certainly worse:
Having sex could kill you.
But how could this be? Sex (at least when it's between straight people) is known to create life, not destroy it. Unfortunately, though, like all good things - gettin' jiggy with it has its downsides.
We should all be educated about STDs by now, and hopefully most of us are aware that some can be fatal if not treated properly. However, there is another health risk to doing the dirty, and it's only recently been tested.
A large study of 13,089 people aged between 20 and 69 found that men who had performed oral sex on five or more sexual partners throughout their life were more than twice as likely to contract the human papillomavirus (HPV) - a disease linked to oral cancers - than the average person.
Yes, you read that correctly - going down on your partner could potentially be a death sentence.
But exactly how risky is it? Well, among the general population, only 3.5 per cent of people are likely to develop HPV, but this figure rose to 7.3 per cent amongst men who had five or more oral sex partners. At double the rate, it's obviously some cause for concern for guys who are a fan of "tasting the goods".
Astoundingly, the probability of being diagnosed with HPV jumped even higher for cigarette smokers, with 14.9 per cent of men who smoked and had five or more partners being at risk of the virus. Moreover, even those who had performed oral sex on fewer than five partners were more at risk if they smoked regularly.
According to the research:
"Most people perform oral sex in their lives, and we found that oral infection with cancer-causing HPV was rare among women regardless of how many oral sex partners they had," said Dr Amber D'Souza, the lead author in the study.
"Among men who did not smoke, cancer-causing oral HPV was rare among everyone who had less [sic] than five oral sex partners, although the chances of having oral HPV infection did increase with number of oral sexual partners, and with smoking."
But don't worry, it's not all bad news.
The study indicated that "only 0.7% [of people] will ‘ever’ develop oropharyngeal cancer in their lifetime," which means that only a tiny fraction of those who contract HPV will actually develop cancer.
It continued to say that, "Oncogenic [cancerous] oral HPV prevalence was higher in men than women, and increased with number of lifetime oral sexual partners and tobacco use," but, "regardless of what other risk factors participants had, oncogenic oral HPV prevalence was ‘low’ among those with only ≤1 lifetime oral sexual partner (women = 0.7% and men = 1.7%)."
As well as practising safe oral sex, it's important for people to cut down on smoking, and also make sure to only drink in moderation, too. There are ways of preventing the disease, you've just got to be vigilant.