Kissing has overtaken smoking and drinking as the leading risk factor for developing head and neck cancers.
The French kiss can pass on human papilloma virus (HPV). Head of Maxillofacial and Head and neck Surgery at the Royal Darwin Hospital, Dr Mahiban Thomas, said the virus was responsible for 70% of head and neck cancer cases.
Dr Thomas told Daily Mail Australia if you became infected by HPV in the oropharynx, your risk of developing head and neck cancer was 250 times higher than that of someone without the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said studies suggest Oral HPV could be passed on during oral sex or open-mouthed or ‘French’ kissing, and about 7% of people have oral HPV, but only 1% of people have the type of oral HPV that is found in oropharyngeal cancers.
Dr Thomas said recent studies suggested even engaging in ‘petting’ without sexual interaction could transfer HPV.