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A Cancer Scare Brought to You by GlaxoSmithKline

An editorial in the British Medical Journal warns of a 51 percent rise in head and neck cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted via oral sex.

Of course, there is a vaccine to prevent HPV -- Cervarix. It’s made by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). And it is therefore unlikely to be a coincidence that the lead author of the article, Hisham Mehanna, is director of the GSK-funded Institute of Head and Neck Studies and Education at University Hospital in Coventry.

In a footnote to the piece, a disclosure says Mehanna “is the director of an institute that does contract work for GlaxoSmithKline that has interests in head and neck cancers.”

So how seriously should we take this oral sex cancer scare? In the U.S., it affects fewer than two people per 100,000.

Cervarix isn’t approved for males or for preventing head and neck cancers -- which is why you’re going to see a sudden rash of sex-cancer-scare stories like this one.

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