Friday, May 11, 2007

Oral Sex And Throat Cancer

A 300 person study by the good folks of John Hopkins "showed" that there was an increased chance of contracting a specific form of throat cancer if you'd performed oral sex on more than six people. Now, I won't go into the backgrounds of the scientists who conducted this study, but let's just say they thought SIX people was a high number.

Which is weird, as 300 is definitely not a high number of people for a survey. Particularly one that has been given so much prominence in the press. Although the oral sex part probably made it unlikely that the press wouldn't cover it. But, being the press, they haven't really looked at the underlying information or how the study was done.

First of all, who sponsored the survey? Was there a puritanical reason behind suggesting that oral sex is bad? And the actual results show that age and tobacco are still higher factors in getting the extremely rare form of throat cancer.

I have a suspicion that Ben Goldacre will be covering this far more fully than I could ever hope to on his excellent Bad Science blog when he's calmed down enough to type.

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