Michael Douglas doesn’t blame oral sex for his cancer.
The actor caused a bit of a controversy this weekend when he said that oral sex can cause cancer. A rep for the actor told Philly.com that Douglas wasn’t referring to his own personal struggles with cancer. Instead, the actor was merely talking in general terms about what causes cancer.
Douglas said: “Without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV (human papillomavirus), which actually comes from cunnilingus.”
Spokesman Allen Burry said that Douglas was not talking about the cause of his cancer. The actor was simply noting that cunnilingus can cause oral cancer.
And according to the CDC, Douglas is right.
Health officials believe that HPV causes about 1,700 oropharyngeal, or throat, cancers in women and another 6,700 in men.
The CDC writes: “HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives … In most cases, the virus goes away and it does not lead to any health problems. There is no certain way to know which people infected with HPV will go on to develop cancer.”
Oral sex can cause throat cancer but it’s unclear if that’s what caused Douglas’ health problems. USA Today notes that the actor has also spent years drinking and smoking which are also causes of throat cancer.