Sunday, March 28, 2010

Can our sexual mores make us sick?

Can our sexual mores make us sick? Anyone who sat through the "VD" (venereal disease) films that we saw in my junior-high health classes might well answer, "DUH!" to a question like that. This was in the era before HIV-AIDS came on the scene, and Syphilis and Gonorrhea were the the two main diseases those films warned us against. Since then, we've become used to hearing about more common diseases, such as genital herpes, more deadly ones such as HIV-AIDS and various forms of viral Hepatitis, and less well-known diseases such as Chlamydia.

But these two recent news articles from England suggest that sexual promiscuity (for which I will use Wikipedia's definition: "sex with relatively many partners") may be the cause of another newly discovered and potentially deadly complication:
Sex virus blamed for rise in head and neck cancers

The number of head and neck cancers linked to a virus spread by oral sex is rising rapidly and suggests boys as well as girls should be offered protection through vaccination, doctors said Friday.

Despite an overall slight decline in head and neck cancers in recent years, cases of a particular form called oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) have increased sharply, particularly in the developed world.

This growth seems to be linked to cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), scientists said in a report in the British Medical Journal.


A recent study found the risk of developing oropharyngeal carcinoma was linked to a history of six or more lifetime sexual partners, four or more lifetime oral sex partners, and, for men, an earlier age at first sexual intercourse.

[Read it all.]

Swinging 60s had nothing on the Noughties: sex study

Young women today are nearly three times more sexually active than those of their grandmothers' generation in the liberal heyday of the "Swinging 60s," according to a survey on Tuesday.

The study found that women in the so-called Noughties between 2000 and 2009 had an average of 5.65 different sexual partners by the time they were 24.

Almost one in 10 of those asked claimed to have slept with more than 10 different partners.

By contrast, women who were in their early twenties in the 1960s had an average of 1.67 partners, and women of their mothers' generation, aged 24 in the 1970s, had 3.72 sexual partners by the same age.


[The study] also found that although women's sex life has increased [sic], sexual health is not improving.

Cancer Research UK statistics show that incidence rates of cervical cancer in women under the age of 25 have not fallen, despite better screening.

Its figures also reveal that although the number of cervical cancer cases in older women has fallen significantly in the last 10 years, diagnoses of the infection in women under the age of 25 have not followed the same trend.

The increase in the number of sexual partners could be one reason, says Lloyds Pharmacy.

"Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infections are very common, especially in younger people," said Clare Kerr, Lloyds Pharmacy's head of sexual health, who warned that HPV is one of the major causes of cervical cancer.

[Read it all.]

The case for "abstinence before marriage, fidelity afterward" continues to stand.

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