Most people associate throat cancer with smoking or even drinking, but The Guardian reported yesterday that actor Michael Douglas contracted the disease by way of the human papillomavirus (HPV) caused by oral sex. They quote him as saying: “Without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus [...] It’s a sexually transmitted disease that causes cancer. And if you have it, cunnilingus is also the best cure for it.”
The Oral Cancer Foundation confirms that a tract of HPV (HPV16) is linked to oral cancer and it usually lives in the back regions of the throat and mouth. The Guardian reports: “HPV, the sexually transmitted virus best known as a cause of cervical and anal cancer and genital warts, is thought to be responsible for an increasing proportion of oral cancers.”
Douglas, who suffered toothaches and oral infections for nine months before being diagnosed, recalls the moment he learned he had stage four throat cancer in August 2010: “I will always remember the look on [my doctor's] face. He said: ‘We need a biopsy.’ There was a walnut-size tumor at the base of my tongue that no other doctor had seen.”
Douglas has been cancer-free for more than two years after an intensive eight-week course of chemotherapy and radiation. He gets regular six-month check-ups. He says this ind of cancer doesn’t come back “95% of the time.”
UPDATE: Michael Douglas’ longtime rep, Allen Burry, told USA Today that although the headline on the Guardian story is “Michael Douglas: Oral Sex caused my cancer,” that’s not what the actor said. “Michael Douglas did not say cunnilingus was the cause of his cancer. It was discussed that oral sex is a suspected cause of certain oral cancers as doctors in the article point out but he did not say it was the specific cause of his personal cancer.”
Interesting. It’s still news to me that you can get cancer through HPV and oral sex. What are your thoughts, Clutchettes?