LONDON (AP) - Actor Michael Douglas says that his throat cancer was caused by a virus he contracted by performing oral sex on women - a claim that a doctor called dubious.
The Guardian newspaper published an interview Monday in which Douglas blamed cunnilingus for the grave malady that was diagnosed in 2010.
The 68-year-old Douglas has been free of cancer for more than two years after receiving extensive chemotherapy and has returned to acting.
Douglas has starred in many movies, including "Basic Instinct" and "Fatal Attraction." He is currently appearing in an acclaimed biopic about Liberace.
He told the newspaper his cancer had been caused by having contracted the human papillomavirus (HPV), which he said led to cancer.
"It's a sexually transmitted disease," Douglas said of the virus.
Dr. Michael Brady, who specializes in sexual health as medical director of the Terrence Higgins Trust, told The Associated Press that oral sex could have contributed to Douglas's cancer but that it was difficult to pinpoint a single cause.
He pointed out that Douglas had been a smoker and a drinker, two factors that he said are the most common causes of oral cancer.
"There are often a number of factors, genetic, environmental, viral, that could be playing a role," he said.
Brady said there are hundreds of different types of HPV virus and that in most cases it is not harmful. The risk is so low, he said, that he does not believe people should worry or change their sexual practices.
Doctors estimate up to about one third of mouth and throat cancers are HPV-related and that the types of HPV found in the mouth are likely to have been caused by oral sex. Still, most high-risk HPV types are linked to genital cancers. For some oral cancers, certain sexual behaviors, like having oral sex with four or more people in your lifetime, can raise the risk, according to Britain's Department of Health. Oral cancers caused by HPV are most common in straight men in their 40s and 50s.
Douglas is married to the actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.
This information is about the human papilloma virus (HPV) and how it may increase the risk of cancer. HPV is known to increase the risk of cancer of the cervix. It may also increase the risk of cancers affecting other parts of the body, including the vulva, vagina, anus, mouth and penis. .
The story made the national news. Now the whole world knows that Catherine Zeta-Jones has that cancer giving coochie! This whole story reminds me of the movie Teeth. It's on tonite at 10:00 on the IFC channel by the way.
It's so odd that Douglas made this statement the same week his Liberace film came out showed. The whole virus by oral sex topic needed to be explained because …? I want to think Catherine Zeta-Jones but the image of Matt Damon will not go away. Damn you HBO. Bleh!
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