Oral sex is not an independent risk factor for oral cancer, according to a meta-analysis published online in the Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine.

Noting that many published epidemiological studies have failed to obtain a consistent conclusion, Sheng Li, M.D., from the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in China, and colleagues performed a meta-analysis to examine the correlation between oral sex and oral cancer. Data were included from six case-control studies and one cross-sectional study, involving 5,553 individuals.

Based on a random-effects model, the researchers found that there was no significant correlation between oral sex and oral cancer risk (odds ratio, 1.15; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.86 to 1.54; P = 0.33).

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In sensitivity analysis, the results were robust, and similar results were seen in subgroup analysis. There was no evidence of publication bias.

“Current evidence suggests that oral sex is a risk marker rather than an independent risk factor for oral cancer,” the authors write.


  1. Li, Sheng, et al. “Oral sex and risk of oral cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies.” Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine. doi: 10.1111/jebm.12159. June 2015.