US actor Michael Douglas has revealed his throat cancer was caused by oral sex.
In an interview with the UK’s The Guardian newspaper, the actor said it wasn’t his years of smoking and drinking that caused his almost-fatal cancer in August 2010.
“Without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by human papillomavirus, which actually comes about from cunnilingus,” said Douglas, now 68.
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“I did worry if the stress caused by my son’s incarceration didn’t help trigger it. But yeah, it’s a sexually transmitted disease that causes cancer. And if you have it, cunnilingus is also the best cure for it.”
Douglas said he’d endured months of mouth discomfort and had been prescribed antibiotics before a Canadian doctor found a tumour when looking in his mouth using a tongue depressor.
“I will always remember the look on his face,” Douglas previously said.
“He said: ‘We need a biopsy.’ There was a walnut-size tumour at the base of my tongue that no other doctor had seen.”
He was diagnosed with stage four cancer and underwent eight weeks of chemotherapy and radiation.
He went on a liquid only diet and lost 20kg.
“That’s a rough ride. That can really take it out of you,” he said.
“Plus the amount of chemo I was getting, it zaps all the good stuff too. It made me very weak.”
Lea Rawlings, Cancer Screening Advisor to Cancer Council Australia, told ninemsn that oral sex is not the only thing to blame for throat cancer.
“It is important to note that consuming alcohol and smoking contribute a much higher risk in the development of throat cancer,” she said.
“Some high risk types of HPV, which can be passed on through sexual activity, can contribute to the development of throat cancer. Most of the time the body clears HPV naturally and it is only in cases where HPV is persistent that cancer may occur.”
In 1992, Douglas was hospitalised for alcohol abuse, which people later assumed was to blame for his throat cancer, alongside smoking.
Douglas has two children with his second wife actress Catherine Zeta Jones. His eldest son Cameron, from a previous marriage, is currently serving a sentence for drug possession.
HPV: The facts
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has long been known to cause cervical and anal cancer, as well as genital warts. It’s now thought to be responsible for 60 percent of throat cancers, due to oral sex.
It is spread via tiny breaks in the skin during genital-skin contact during sex.
There are many types of HPV — only the “high risk” ones can cause cancer.
Four out of five adults will have a type of HPV in their life. Most people won’t have symptoms and it usually clears naturally over time, leaving no long-lasting effects.
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Now that Australian students aged 12-13 are getting a HPV vaccine, Rawlings said numbers should diminish.
“The HPV vaccine protects against 70 percent of cervical cancers and provides some protection against other less common cancers including throat cancers,” she said.
“Cancer Council Australia encourages both teenage boys and girls eligible for the Government HPV vaccination programme to get vaccinated.”
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