General Health Friday September 18, 2015

How Dangerous Is Kissing?

If you ever needed an excuse to get out of kissing your ancient aunt, this is it. Pay attention to Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week 21-25th Sept and keep the wobbly jowls at bay.

Kissing can kill you. I'm not talking about that teenage slobbering when you think you might suffocate and Jesus Christ it's like a washing machine. I'm talking about neck and head cancer, which is a real threat.

Kissing Causes Cancer?

HPV is rife. It's overtaken smoking as the leading cause of mouth cancer. In the US last year it was responsible for 70% of new head and neck cancer cases. Any exchange of body fluid can be risky, saliva included. It's French kissing that causes the most exchange of fluids, so that's the risky kiss. Of course oral sex is also kissing, and if someone has HPV down there, then you're simply filling your mouth with it.

What Is HPV?

It's a group of viruses that infect your moist skin, such as the cervix, anus, throat and mouth. There are many different types. They can cause abnormal tissue growth and changes to your cells that can lead to cancer.

What Are The Symptoms?

Symptoms of head and neck cancer are:

  • Sore tongue
  • White patches
  • Ulcers
  • Pain in your throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Blood from one side of the nose
  • Lump in your neck

If you have any of these for three weeks or more then see your GP, no messing about. This can kill you.

What Can I do? Give Up Kissing?

But what if you meet Prince Harry/David Gandy/Trevor Macdonald at All Bar One? If you do, you have my permission to snog him blind.

Experts say the risk of contracting HPV increases with the amount of kissing and oral sex partners you get friendly with. That's a bit obvious isn't it? So to decrease your risk you may need to stop snogging so much and (cough) give less oral sex... OK maybe not less, but with fewer people.

What Else Causes Head and Neck Cancer?

Men are 2/3 times more likely to get it than women. Here are the other risk factors:

  • Alcohol: men who drink more than 3 units a day, and women who drink more than 2, are at increased risk.
  • Smoking: Smokers are more likely to develop cancer.
  • Genetics: Pure bad luck can cause it too.

Head and neck cancer is on the rise. It's now the sixth most prevalent cancer in the EU. It's twice as common as cervical cancer, which all women of age are screened for in the UK. In 2012 150,000 new patients were diagnosed in Europe.

You know what to do if you have symptoms, don't leave it too late. If it's caught early enough there is an 80-90% survival rate. Unfortunately many don't realise the problem and leave it until the disease is advanced. But now you know there's no excuse is there? So tell your friends and family too, and let's make sure everyone is aware.

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