Michael Douglas gave everyone a gigantic honesty slap in the face when he told the Guardian that he suspects he got throat cancer from having oral sex. Specifically, that his cancer was caused by HPV. I guess we really shouldn’t have a double standard here when it comes to celebrities talking about cancer, and yet…the thing is, that doctors have yet to agree that HPV is a sole cause of cancer. So when Mr. Douglas speaks out for this cause, he could be doing more harm than good. And also, let’s be real, now we have the image of Michael Douglas giving oral sex. Although if you saw Behind The Candelabra I guess that’s really not a big deal. And compared to some of the terrible films he’s done in the last decade, we’ve probably seen worse. Boom.
So what exactly did Michael Douglas say? Here’s some key parts from the Guardian article:
… Asked whether he now regretted his years of smoking and drinking, usually thought to be the cause of the disease, Douglas replied: “No. Because without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus. 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.”
Note: so far, no doctors agree with his last statement.
The actor, now 68, was diagnosed with cancer in August 2010, following many months of oral discomfort. But a series of specialists missed the tumour and instead prescribed antibiotics. Douglas then went to see a friend’s doctor in Montreal who looked inside his mouth using a tongue depressor.
“I will always remember the look on his face,” Douglas has 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 4 cancer, which is usually a death sentence, but his treatment worked. He’s been cancer-free for 2 years. If you’re interested in Douglas’ claims that HPV caused his cancer, read on for one doctor’s opinion.
Mahesh Kumar, a consultant head and neck surgeon in London, confirmed that the last decade has seen a dramatic rise in this form of cancer, particularly among younger sufferers. Recent studies of 1,316 patients with oral cancer found that 57% of them were HPV-16 positive.
“It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that the HPV type 16 is the causative agent in oropharyngeal cancer,” said Kumar, who also testified to increased recovery rates among this kind of cancer sufferer. This would help explain why Douglas was given an 80% chance of survival, despite the advanced stage of his illness.
But Kumar expressed scepticism that Douglas’s cancer was caused solely by HPV, and surprise at Douglas’s assertion that cunnilingus could also help cure the condition. “Maybe he thinks that more exposure to the virus will boost his immune system. But medically, that just doesn’t make sense.“
I’m willing to bet that Doulgas will soon come out with a statement saying that The Guardian twisted his words, because up until now, he’s said that his cancer was caused by stress. But perhaps he’s changed his mind. Whatever the cause, I’m glad he’s okay.