It’s True. You Can Get Throat Cancer From Oral Sex

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Actor Michael Douglas

On Sunday, in an interview with the Guardian, actor Michael Douglas revealed that his throat cancer was not caused by tobacco and alcohol, but by HPV, which was transmitted through oral sex. He has since called the statement a misunderstanding, but it’s still true: you can get throat cancer from HPV.

In an eye-poppingly candid interview with the Guardian’s Xan Brooks, Douglas, who is married to actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, allegedly told the reporter his cancer was caused by the STD:

The throat cancer, I assume, was first seeded during those wild middle years, when he drank like a fish and smoked like the devil. Looking back, knowing what he knows now, does he feel he overloaded his system?

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

From what? For a moment I think that I may have misheard.

“From cunnilingus. I mean, 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.” He shrugs. “And if you have it, cunnilingus is also the best cure for it.”

Right, I say. OK. So what he is suggesting is that it all evens out? “That’s right,” says Douglas. “It giveth and it taketh.”

(MORE: New Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines Include HPV Tests)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause genital warts or present itself without symptoms. If left untreated, it can also cause cancers of the cervix, anus, penis, vulva, vagina — and head and neck cancers. “HPV being a cause of head and neck cancer was really only accepted about five years ago,” says Dr. Maura Gillison, a professor at the Ohio State University who studies HPV infections in the head, throat and neck. “Before then, no one really cared about oral HPV infections.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 60% of oropharyngeal cancers — cancers of the throat, tonsils and the base of tongue — are related to HPV. It is estimated that every year in the U.S., more than 2,370 new cases of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers are diagnosed in women and about 9,356 are diagnosed in men; they are most common in white men.

“It is a known phenomenon,” says Gillison. “In the U.S., there is an active shift going on. Fortunately thanks to tobacco policy and public-health awareness, the incidence rate for the classical head and neck cancer caused by smoking is declining. But unfortunately, the rate of oropharynx cancer is still going up and it’s because of the HPV component.”

In 2011, Gillison and her colleagues conducted a study looking at the proportion of oropharynx cancers associated with HPV over time in the U.S. The proportion increased from 16% to 72% from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. “The incidence is rising pretty rapidly in the U.S.,” says Gillison. “Approximately 10% per year, particularly among Caucasian middle-age men.”

HPV-related throat cancer presents similarly to tobacco- and alcohol-related throat cancer, but they are considered two separate diseases, says Gillison. There are about 15 different HPV types that are established causes of cancer. The most common are HPV 16 and 18, accounting for about 70% of cervical cancers. “For oral infection, we find the same types of HPV in the oral cavity as we do in the cervix or genital region for men, but the infection is considerably less common,” says Gillison.

(MORE: Government Panel Recommends HPV Vaccine for Boys)

Oral HPV doesn’t benefit from the comprehensive testing and preventative procedures established for HPV of the cervix. Women who get regular Pap smears are quickly tested for cancerous changes that may be caused by HPV of the cervix.

“When HPV was recognized to be the cause of cervical cancer, the entire algorithm for doing Pap smears and referring a patient to a gynecologist was already established,” says Gillison. “The researchers were able to just piggyback all of their analysis and testing for HPV on the cervix onto something that was already established in the field. For oral, there is no established screening algorithm so there is no piggybacking onto routine clinical care.”

There is currently no method to routinely test for oral HPV, nor is there a way to test men for genital HPV. Researchers are working on developing clinical tests for the virus, which is among the most common STDs: researchers say most sexually active people will likely have an HPV infection at some point, but many never know. The infection doesn’t always present symptoms, and typically clears the body in one to two years.

According to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, it is estimated that 20 million people in the U.S. currently have HPV infection, and 1 in 49 people will contract a new HPV infection each year.

Physicians recommend the HPV vaccine for both young boys and girls to prevent infection from the disease.

107 comments
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zoerachel44

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GogoSolar
GogoSolar

Protect and treat yourself from HPV with Wartrol Genital Warts are generally caused by HPV or Human Papilloma Virus which gets transmitted through sexual contact. Genital warts do not cause long term health concerns but definitely requires proper attention and care. For Genital Warts there happens to be a homeopathic cure for this disease

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Morgan3Becky

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syed
syed

its still fun....hpv move aside!

xmanni01
xmanni01

CZJ is so effin hot, it's almost worth it!

robertmrtn119
robertmrtn119

Micheal Douglass is right. I got mouth cancer, from trying to please women. 7 weeks of radiation, and i cant grow a beard no more. I can't even taste food the way i used to. I still have  sidefects. Its been 6 years. So please think twice about going low on a girl. 

mazin.than
mazin.than

well, how could anyone be sure that he only did this to his wife to assume that it was caused by her!


MonteSchlegel
MonteSchlegel

Poor Michael Douglas.  Catherine Zeta Jones gave him an HPV and cancer.  Now wonder he's considering divorcing her.  God only knows how many guys she screwed before she met Michael.  And God only knows how many different venereal diseases she has.

robertmrtn119
robertmrtn119

@JonathanMartin No, it dont work that way. Its not what you do now, its what happened in the past. Cancer doesnt show up right away, it comes out later in life. Dont disrespect what you have now, and dont worry about what happened in the past. Just be ready for if something does come up. Go to god first. Then you can figure everything else out after that

JanelleStevens
JanelleStevens

@JonathanMartin Not true. Plenty of monogamous people have HPV. Almost everyone gets it at some point in their lives. It has nothing to do with being promiscuous! Do the math. almost everyone has it and it only takes one person to get it. And, most people don't have any symptoms and there is no way to test for it in men. You should do some research before commenting.

Andee
Andee

Excuse me, Abraham, you sound like the typical closet queen! Try it once and then talk spilled semen! Sheesh!

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

Douglas revelation should serve as a warning to men involved in gay marriages. Semen created by God for creation is being spilled into throats and thighs by gays. The very thought of oral sex is disgusting. It is sickening that gay marriage is given lot of publicity. 

Andee
Andee

So much time wasted on what one man had to say in jest.  I can assure you that there is no physician who would tell a patient the cancer was caused by any one thing. Women who have cervical cancer can also be diagnosed with HPV.  Not all women with HPV will get cancer.  It is one theory that numerous partners heighten the risk of HPV in women.  A gay male family member was diagnosed with HPV of the esophagus after having had heartburn for years.  Eventually it became cancerous and he succumbed.  Research that I did at the time indicated that many gay men have HPV of the throat, esophagus, as well as nether region,  and whether or not it will become cancerous is dependent on their immune system, age and countless other reasons.  There is cancer research galore and the closest any study has done is there are many carcinogens in our midst, asbestos and tobacco being two, yet no true causes have been pinpointed, and most cancers are treatable if caught early, but no cure yet.  For Mr. Douglas to say, "it was not caused by smoking or alcohol. but by oral sex and was treated with oral sex" must be his attempt at humor.  I think he is a great actor, but this was not funny.  

MuricanBob
MuricanBob

"It giveth and it taketh". This guy

Sandrunner
Sandrunner

If the virus can be transmitted to the mouth and live there, then could it be transmitted from mouth to mouth?  If not, does anyone know why?

nokomis
nokomis

@Sandrunner    Good question and I also would like to know the answer. My gal recently informed me that she has given oral sex to a couple of men before she knew me and now I have reservations about kissing her on the mouth in case she has oral HPV. I'm not very happy about this!

ShawnArscott
ShawnArscott

Free advertising for companies that push the HPV vaccine. And perhaps advice to know your partner. I am enjoying sex with my love rather than taking this vaccine.

SebastianValmont
SebastianValmont

Who'd a thunk it? Damn you, cancer! For tainting yet another of our guilty pleasures. The really disturbing thing? It took Michael Douglas to tell us this.

- rate my comment on puffsky.com

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

Truly a disgusting revelation by Mr. Douglas that has zero place in the public discourse.  Some things are better kept between a patient and his doctor.

EvenSteven
EvenSteven

I just found a pubmed study that showed the odds ratio of squamaous cell oropharyngeal cancers was 2.2 times higher in smokers with HPV than in nonsmokers with HPV.

Most of us are exposed to HPV at some point in our lives and nearly all of us clear it spontaneously in two years.  It seems that smoking is a link in the pathway from benign infection to malignancy.  Think of the lining of our mucous membranes as dry grass, HPV as the spark and tobacco as the wind.  The first two are necessary for a fire but the third additional factor really increases the chance of a runaway grass fire.

marywms12
marywms12

In the article, there is a assumption that Squamous cell carcinoma of the back of the throat is caused be one of the 15 HPVs that are known to be associated with cancer...but here's the deal...there are over 100 HPV viruses including non sexually transmitted warts. Also there is a correlation between the HPV infections and the mutation of gene P53. P53 helps suppress cancers to grow - HPV screws up the gene's function, cancers grow. Bottom line...the headlines should be reading To Be Continued......

dcolumbare
dcolumbare

His home life with Catherine might have been happier if he just let people think it was smoking and alcohol .

joshstrike
joshstrike

If 60% of oral, throat and neck cancers are caused by HPV, that makes giving head more dangerous than smoking a cigarette. Hey Bloomberg. Why don't you pass a law against oral sex, now that you banned all the smoking outside your cigar bar at the Midtown Sheraton? Oh wait it's cause you're a c***s*cker.

pmug
pmug

It wasn't the smoking, Michael ?  Really ?  Someone is in deep denial.

brenro12
brenro12

It was right on the tip of his tongue.

JonathanSmith1
JonathanSmith1

You can not catch cancer. Cancer is really not a disease but a symptom of an  acid condition created by a toxic sludge that the cells are swimming in from unremoved waste from a clogged lymphatic system.Why are so many so ignorant about what causes the cancer condition.

BillC
BillC

I like the way JohnDoeson1 put it because I don't plan to live forever anyways. One of the things we have to keep in mind is that if we stick around on this planet for long enough you are guaranteed to get and die of something. Of course, we need to make good decisions and protect ourselves, but we have to live as well. I wouldn't suggest running around all crazy, like he said he did during those wild middle years, but I wouldn't let it paralyze me from living my life. If that was the case we may as well go lock ourselves in a box somewhere. Then we would only have to worry about going crazy, not catching something.

JohnDoeson1
JohnDoeson1

Well, I'd suppose the inevitable question comes to mind:  "You wanna live forever?"


Cars kill people, but I take a chance getting into one when I go camping.

Bears and wildlife kill people, but, I choose the chance when I go camping by arming myself.

I arm myself to protect myself from people's choices.

...and I choose to eat pie because I don't like bratwurst, damnit!

ThomasinChicago
ThomasinChicago

Come on man . . . this is just TOO much information.

BushkinDasha
BushkinDasha

I bet more liberal s have this throat cancer than the right wingers.

totoalap
totoalap

Yuck! Does this mean Michael Douglas is a first rate p@ssy licker?

medvacacion
medvacacion

So....have you, oh so smart educated? commentators, asked your health professional if this is true?

For if you had, you will learn something....probably hard for some, that in fact, HPV can cause cancer.  

It happened to a friend of mine, non-smoker, non-drinker who ended up with throat cancer.

The good news from such a bad illness is that you have a better survival rate as the cause was not induced due to chemicals.

tkotonite8
tkotonite8

Be sure to spread the message to Bill Clinton.  

RobertCraten
RobertCraten

Micheal Douglas say's so, it must be true.  Give me a break

vgupta123
vgupta123

"Physicians recommend the HPV vaccine for both young boys and girls, to prevention infection from the disease."

This article is another unabashed ad for the HPV vaccine. Why don't you directly talk about how safe and effective this vaccine would be against this type of throat cancer in older men? And are there any controlled trials to validate the claim?

ChuckPierce
ChuckPierce

OH NO.  No smoking, no processed sugar, no coffee ... NOW THIS? 

I am growing hair in the palms of my hands and my eyesight is failing ... life sucks ,,, no, wait, I didn't mean that ...

suddendepth
suddendepth

I keep picturing him between Kathleen Turner's legs at the end of the mudslide scene in Romancing the Stone. Jack picked something up in Colombia.

HarryBalzagna
HarryBalzagna

In other words, white men are eating more p@ssy than ever.   Let's not overlook this, ladies, the next time you whine about our Saturday golf trips...

maxinerwb
maxinerwb

How about being a little choosy when it comes to oral sex?   Our country is failing and it is because no-one wants to admit that all this free sex and lack of morals and the inability of men to keep their zippers up and women to keep from having sex with anyone at any time.  Personally, I'm all for sex workers (so that doctors can keep an eye on them).  I think this might help alleviate some of the problems.   Of course the best treatment is to just NO.   

chuck3
chuck3

You are what you eat.