It Was the 'Cunnilingus'
Actor Michael Douglas says that cunnilingus gave him throat cancer, yet also eventually cured him of the disease. Are his medical claims accurate?
A-list celebrities seem to be opening up about their medical issues.
Several weeks ago, actress Angelina Jolie wrote a thoughtful essay for the New York Times about her difficult decision to undergo a double mastectomy.
And now, in a less moving but still very personal announcement, Michael Douglas has implied to a Guardian reporter that he performs a lot of oral sex on his wife.
In an interview with the Guardian, Douglas was asked about the throat cancer that he suffered from back in 2010. Douglas explained that he got the cancer from HPV, or human papillomavirus, an extremely common sexually transmitted disease.
As for the HPV, he says he got that by performing oral sex. "This particular cancer is caused by HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus," he said.
Perhaps not wanting to make it look like he was blaming his wife — fellow actor Catherine Zeta-Jones — for the cancer, he then added: "And if you have [throat cancer], cunnilingus is also the best cure for it."
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How sweet. While that last claim is obviously a joke, how much of what else he said is medically sound?
It's true that HPV does cause throat cancer, as NBC points out in its news article titled, "Michael Douglas is right, HPV can cause throat cancer."
But is cunnilingus to blame? Experts simply don't know the answer to that question because it hasn't been studied enough. The UK's National Health Service explains that "there is very little research" that compares the risks of performing cunnilingus vs. performing fellatio when it comes to contracting HPV.
However, researchers do know that HPV-related throat cancer is twice as common in men than in women, and is more common in heterosexual men than in homosexual men. This suggests that cunnilingus is a bigger risk factor for contracting HPV than fellatio, a stark contradiction to most STDs in which fellatio is usually the bigger risk.
So Douglas can't prove that he's right about the exact cause of his HPV, but research suggests that he might be.
Reaction on Twitter
Really annoyed that Michael Douglas has pointed out how cunnilingus gave him oral cancer. Another one of my evil feminist plots foiled— The Vagenda Team (@VagendaMagazine) June 3, 2013
Michael Douglas got throat cancer from the most "Michael Douglas" way of getting throat cancer. huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/02/mic…— Jason Berger (@jayberger) June 2, 2013
How Michael Douglas ate his way into - & possibly out of - trouble. My interview here gu.com/p/3g93y/tw— Xan Brooks (@XanBrooks) June 2, 2013
"I'd LOVE to lick your mackerel but I CAN'T! Michael Douglas says it'll give me throat cancer!"— Marian Keyes (@MarianKeyes) June 3, 2013
I think reading about Michael Douglas performing cunnilingus has given me eye cancer.— Michael Dawson (@michaeljdawson) June 3, 2013
Don't think I've read "cunnilingus" online so many times in a day. Or a month. Or a year. Thank you Michael Douglas. theage.com.au/lifestyle/life…— Myron My (@mightymy9) June 3, 2013
Cunnilingus beats chocolates and flowers any day, boy.— Barbra (@Barbz88) May 9, 2013
Is Michael Douglas saying cunnilingus causes cancer? Is that just an excuse?— Joel (@Joelemite) June 3, 2013