By Riva Preil
Approximately 70% of cervical cancer is caused by two types of human papillomaviruses (HPV), HPV 16 and HPV 18. In addition, it is believed that many cases of oropharyngeal cancers, especially amongst heterosexual males, are caused by sexually transmitted viruses which are transmitted through oral sex. The past thirty years have demonstrated a huge rise in throat cancers due to oral sex, and the rate was only 16% in the 1980s compared to 70% nowadays!
Fortunately, GlaxoSmithKline recently produced Cervarix with the support of the National Cancer Institute. Cervarix is a vaccine that protects against HPV 16 and 18, the two types of the virus that are strongly associated with cervical cancer. The vaccine works by creating antibodies that protect against the virus. Fortunately, a recent study performed by Dr. Rolando Herrero (head of prevention for the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer) with 5,840 women in Costa Rica revealed that Cervarix ALSO helps protect against oropharyngeal cancers. Although the research was only performed with women and future research with men is still required, it is suggested that the vaccine produces similar antibody levels amongst both genders. Further research is also indicated to explore how long the protection lasts and whether or not re-vaccination is required. For additional details about the study, please refer to this link in the New York Times.