Michael Douglas has stated that his throat cancer is the result of oral sex, according to the Guardian. A doctor told ABC News the claim was "dubious."
Douglas told the Guardian that cunnilingus was to blame for his current throat cancer diagnoses, which he received in 2010. He has been cancer-free for more than two years after undergoing chemotherapy and has now returned to acting, with his most recent project, a biopic about Liberace, "Behind the Candelabra," debuting recently on HBO.
The cancer was caused by the contraction of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which Douglas said he contracted by performing oral sex on a woman that had it, which then led to the cancer, according to Douglas.
"It's a sexually transmitted disease," Douglas said of HPV.
Oral sex could have contributed to Douglas's cancer, but it's difficult to pinpoint a single cause, according to Dr. Michael Brady, who specializes in sexual health and serves as medical director of the Terrence Higgins Trust. Brady also pointed out that Douglas was a smoker and a drinker, two factors that are the most common causes of oral cancer, in a conversation with the Associated Press.
"There are often a number of factors, genetic, environmental, viral, that could be playing a role," Brady said.
There are hundreds of different types of HPV and in most cases, Brady says, it isn't harmful. It has such a low risk that Brady doesn't believe people should worry about it.
Doctors estimate that about one third of mouth and throats cancers are HPV-related and that the types of HPV found in the mouth are most likely to have been caused by oral sex, though most high-risk HPV types are linked to genital cancers. Oral cancers caused by HPV are most common in straight men in their 40s and 50s.
Douglas is married to actress Catherine Zeta-Jones who just recently completed a treatment program for bipolar disorder.