Dr. Maura L. Gillison of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus and colleagues used data from a cross-sectional study as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009 to 2010, a statistically representative sample of the U.S. population.
A total of 5,579 men and women ages 14-69 were examined at mobile examination centers for HPV.
"Oral HPV infection is the cause of a subset of oropharyngeal -- relating to the mouth and pharynx -- squamous cell carcinomas. Human papillomavirus positive mouth and throat cancer are associated with sexual behavior in contrast to HPV-negative mouth and threat cancer, which are associated with chronic tobacco and alcohol use.
At least 90 percent of HPV-positive mouth and throat cancer are caused by high-risk HPV type 16 and oral infection confers an approximate 50-fold increase in risk for HPV-positive mouth and threat cancer.
Incidence has significantly increased over the last three decades in several countries, and HPV has been directly implicated as the underlying cause, the researchers said in a statement.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found oral HPV prevalence was associated with several measures of sexual behavior, including those who ever reported having had sex versus not having sex. Prevalence of HPV increased with lifetime or recent number of partners for any kind of sex, vaginal or oral, the study said.