The human papillomavirus is known to promote the development of oncology. For example, HPV can cause cervical cancer in women. The virus also contributes to oropharyngeal cancer in 70 percent of cases, scientists from Johns Hopkins University write in the Annals of Oncology.

During the study, researchers asked participants about smoking and sexuality – whether they practiced oral sex and with how many partners.

The results showed that the papilloma virus is most common in male smokers who have had oral sex with five or more partners – 15 percent (against three percent in women). In non-smoking men with at least five partners, HPV occurs in 7 percent of cases.

In women, HPV is less common than in men, and is less affected by oral sex and smoking. However, women who have had oral sex with men are half as likely to get the virus in their mouths as women who practice same-sex love (1.4 percent versus 3.5).