Share via Email This article is over 5 years old Michael Douglas — the star of Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction — has revealed that his throat cancer was apparently caused by performing oral sex. In a surprisingly frank interview with the Guardian , the actor, now winning plaudits in the Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, explained the background to a condition that was thought to be nearly fatal when diagnosed three years ago.
Asked whether he now regretted his years of smoking and drinking, usually thought to be the cause of the disease, Douglas replied: Because without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus. But yeah, it's a sexually transmitted disease that causes cancer. And if you have it, cunnilingus is also the best cure for it. 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. He refused to use a feeding tube, despite his palate being burnt on account of the treatment, and so lost 20kg 45lb on a liquids-only diet.
That can really take it out of you," he told the Guardian. It made me very weak. The cause of Douglas's cancer had long been assumed to be related to his tobacco habit, coupled with enthusiastic boozing.
In , he was hospitalised for an addiction which some at the time claimed to be sex. Douglas himself denied this and said he was in rehab for alcohol abuse. He has also spoken of recreational drug use.
HPV, the sexually transmitted virus best known as a cause of cervical and anal cancer and genital warts, is thought to be responsible for an increasing proportion of oral cancers. Some suggest that changes in sexual behaviour — a rise in oral sex in particular — are responsible.
Such changes might be cultural, but could also be linked to fears about the safety of penetrative sex in the wake of the Aids epidemic. 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.
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. But medically, that just doesn't make sense. Asking for a detailed sexual history would be inappropriate at that stage. In , Cameron was sentenced to five years in prison for drugs possession and dealing, and a year later had his sentence extended until after he pleaded guilty to possessing drugs in prison.
They appear in different parts of the body and manifest themselves in different ways — some cause warts, but most are symptomless. It's a long-term risk factor: