Could dating apps be fuelling rising rates of oral cancer?
Dentists have issued a warning over the use of dating apps amid concerns over the increased prevalence of HPV, a virus known to increase the risk of several forms of cancer, including oral cancer.
The British Dental Association, along with a number of other health bodies, has already backed a move to expand the HPV vaccine programme to include teenage boys, as well as girls, but this was rejected by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. It is estimated that up to 50 percent of the population will be affected by HPV at some point in their lives. In most cases, HPV doesn’t cause any problems, but certain strains are linked to an elevated risk of some forms of cancer. Cervical cancer is one of these, and this is why the HPV vaccination programme was introduced in British schools. Girls aged 12 and 13 are entitled to the vaccination, but the immunisation is not currently available for boys.
Dentists are worried that the ruling on HPV vaccination for boys is based on data that is no longer accurate, as behaviour has changed and factors, including the rise of dating apps like Tinder, have not been considered by those in charge of making decisions. The British Dental Association believes that information used to make decisions is outdated and there are also accusations that data has been withheld during the consultation process.
Dr Mick Armstrong, chair of the BDA, said that it is “shocking” that the vaccine will not be made available to thousands of boys who are at risk of developing certain forms of cancer, including oral cancer, as a result of HPV infection.
The relationship between oral cancer and HPV has been a subject of intrigue, especially since Hollywood actor, Michael Douglas, attributed his own experiences with throat cancer to oral sex.