New research ties tobacco use to higher risk of oral HPV infection

0 23 October 2014

BALTIMORE, USA: A recently published study has shown that infection with the oral human papillomavirus Type 16 (HPV 16), which is also thought to cause oropharyngeal cancer, is more common among people who have recently used or been exposed to tobacco. The researchers found that even modest tobacco use, like three cigarettes per day, is associated with higher oral HPV prevalence. The study included 6,887 participants, who were originally enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a program of studies designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the U.S. Current tobacco users accounted for 28.6 percent (2,012) of the study population and 1 percent (63) were infected with HPV 16. Examination of blood and urine, as well as oral rinsing and gargling to collect mouth and throat cells, found that participants with higher levels of tobacco-related biomarkers in their blood and urine, which can come from any tobacco source—even secondhand smoke—were more likely to have oral HPV 16 DNA compared with those who had no detectable levels of the compounds, explained Dr. Carole Fakhry, an assistant professor of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where the study was conducted. According to the study, oral HPV 16 prevalence was greater in current tobacco users (2.0 percent) than