60seconds Sam: Jaime Winstone on the dangers of oral sex
There was a very good reason for my chat with the Kidulthood and Made in Dagenham star, her new documentary Is Oral Sex Safe? looks into the links between oral sex and oral cancer.
While most of us know that having unprotected sex can lead to STIs, like Chlamydia or Herpes, how much do you know about HPV? Had you even heard of it?
Well, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is common. It lives in the skin and can be passed on through sexual contact. Cancer Research UK says there are more than 100 different strains of HPV and most of us are likely to get it at some point in our lives. But there's no need to panic. Most people won't get any symptoms and it usually goes away without treatment. So the virus may be common, but the chance of it turning into anything cancerous is slim. The reason why schoolgirls are vaccinated against HPV is to protect them from cervical cancer. The virus is the main cause of this type of cancer and it's believed that the vaccination programme will save hundreds of lives each year.
But researchers told Jaime that the rates of HPV-related oral cancers are going up - and that men are at most risk of getting it - so she's keen for boys to be offered the jab too. Professor Margaret Stanley, who's an HPV expert at Cambridge University, says she's seen a steep rise in oral cancer caused by HPV in the last couple of years. It's estimated that around 700 people are affected a year in the UK and experts say the numbers are rising faster among young adults.
However, the Department of Health says it needs more evidence. The government's director of immunisation, Professor David Salisbury, says other areas of health will suffer if he spends money "irresponsibly". He says they'd have to vaccinate around 300,000 boys every year and questions whether it's going to be cost effective and asks whether it is a good use of money.
You can watch Is Oral Sex Safe? presented by Jaime Winstone tonight at 9pm on BBC Three.
Let us know what you think? Do you think everyone should be offered the vaccination even if other areas of health may suffer?
- BBC Health: HPV
- Cancer Research UK: Mouth and oropharyngeal cancer
- Macmillan: HPV and cancer
- National Cancer Intelligence Network
- Watch Jaime talking about the risks of oral sex on Radio 1's Newsbeat website
- More about Is Oral Sex Safe?
- Follow 60seconds Sam on Twitter @SamNazTV