In Brief

Michael Douglas Says Oral Sex Gave Him Throat Cancer

Michael Douglas
Michael Douglas, shown here attending the Cannes Film Festival in France on May 21, 2013. (Image credit: cinemafestival /

Michael Douglas believes that giving oral sex is what led to his throat cancer.

At least, that's what Douglas indicated in an interview with The Guardian published on Sunday (June 2). 

When asked whether smoking and drinking for many years contributed to the throat cancer that the actor revealed he had in 2010, Douglas said no. He said, "No. Because, without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus."

After explaining that stress from his son's incarceration may have also played a role, he continued, "It's a sexually transmitted disease that causes cancer... And if you have it, cunnilingus is also the best cure for it." 

Douglas is correct in that HPV can be contracted though oral sex, and can cause cancer of the throat  and oral cavity, studies have shown. 

Oral HPV infection is more common in men than women, according to a study published in 2012 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In that study, 10 percent of men ages 14 to 69 had an oral HPV infection, compared with 3.6 percent of women.

Karen Rowan
Health Editor
Karen came to LiveScience in 2010, after writing for Discover and Popular Mechanics magazines, and working as a correspondent for the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. She holds an M.S. degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University, as well as an M.S. in cellular biology from Northeastern Illinois University. Prior to becoming a journalist, Karen taught science at Adlai E. Stevenson High School, in Lincolnshire, Ill. for eight years.