Is Michael Douglas Right? Can Men Get Throat Cancer From Oral Sex?

healthylifesg.comOne of the biggest news stories this week was the revelation that actor Michael Douglas’ battle with throat cancer was caused by cunnilingus.

In case you somehow missed this story, here’s how the news broke.

During a recent interview with The Guardian, Douglas was asked by reporter Xan Brooks if he regretted his years of smoking and drinking, which is what was assumed to be the cause of the cancer.

No. Because without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus.”

That’s right. Michael Douglas claims that when he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2010 it was from performing oral sex on women who had a sexually transmitted disease.

Naturally, the actor’s rep, Allen Burry, immediately tried to backpedal. He told USA Today:

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 doctor’s in the article point out but he did not say it was the specific cause of his personal cancer.”

The Guardian is standing by their report and have even provided transcripts of the exchange that clearly states that Douglas did actually make those claims.

Now, the story has gone viral and has become a much-talked about subject. EvenDouglas’ ex-wife, Diandra, has come forward to say that he didn’t contract anything from her. There’s been no response from his current wife, Catherine Zeta Jones, on the matter. But, Douglas has sent out a statement to Barbara Walters that states that Catherine is “healthy”.

Some believe that the actor could have contracted a STD through an act of infidelity. But, that’s not really the concern. Does it matter if he cheated on Diandra or Catherine? Not really. It’s none of our business or concern. But what is concerning is if there is any truth to his statements.

It is agreed that HPV can result in a number of unpleasant medical conditions, like cervical and anal cancer and genital warts. In The Guardian article, Mahesh Kumar, a consultant head and neck surgeon in London, stated that “It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that the HPV type 16 is the causative agent in oropharyngeal cancer,” but he doubts that that was the cause of Douglas’ cancer.

However, the CDC has reported to NBC News:

63 percent of the estimated 11,726 cases of oropharyngeal cancers diagnosed each year in the United States are thought to be caused by HPV. About 3,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with HPV-associated anal cancer and the rate of infection appears to be increasing.

Natalie Marshall, a medical oncologist with Alta Bates Summit’s Comprehensive Cancer Center in Berkeley, CA, has also backed up the claim by saying that HPV Type 16 can cause throat cancer. However, because most people don’t want to discuss oral sex, it’s difficult to exactly pinpoint the cause of cancer. Obviously, drinking and smoking can be factors, but apparently so is HPV.

Before anyone panics, there’s good news and bad news.

About 10 percent of men and about 3 percent of women who engage in oral sex contact the HPV Type 16 strain. Mainly the people who do contract the virus are those who can’t fight it off.

The bad news?

The HPV virus isn’t just contracted by the mouth. Like most STDs it can also be transmitted in the genital and anal areas.

So, what can you do to protect yourself?

It can be as simple as practicing safe sex or getting vaccinated for the virus.

While it’s not 100% proven that Michael Douglas contracted HPV, which resulted in his throat cancer, it can happen. It’s a touchy subject to discuss, but this is one of the few examples of a celebrity bringing awareness to a topic that is sometimes overlooked.

(Extracted from AMOG)


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