Hollywood star Michael Douglas has blamed the human papilloma virus (HPV) for his life-threatening throat cancer
The virus has been linked to cervical cancer and mouth cancer transmitted by oral sex.
When asked about his years of smoking and drinking, the 68-year-old Oscar-winning actor said: ‘. . . without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by something called HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus.’
In 2010, Douglas underwent eight weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatments after being diagnosed with stage IV cancer, which is often terminal. He’s been cancer-free for two years and is currently starring as Liberace in the film, Candelabra.
Dental hygienist of the year, Christina Chatfield, who is practice owner at the Dental Health Spa in Brighton, Sussex, said: ‘A high profile case like Michael Douglas can only help but raise awareness. Research by the British Dental Health Foundation found that a quarter of people have never heard of mouth cancer, and less than half can name the risk factors.
‘We are already aware of the link between the HPV and cervical cancer but research has shown a link between HPV and mouth cancer through oral sex, which helps to explain the increase in mouth cancer cases in young people, particularly among men.
‘Mouth cancer kills more people than cervical and testicular cancer , in the UK future generations are now vaccinated against it but it is only given to girls but this is not a discriminatory virus, what about the boys? Experts say HPV could overtake tobacco and alcohol as a major risk factor for mouth cancer within the coming decade. Early detection is key, for older generations who may have already been exposed to HPV it is important that they are aware of the signs of oral cancer.’
Last year, a total of 482,696 new STI cases were reported in the UK.
It is thought that at least 50% of sexually active men and women get HPV at some point in their lives.
Experts predict HPV will overtake the current main risk factors of alcohol and tobacco, within the next 10 years. Without early detection, an estimated 30,000 people in the UK will die from mouth cancer in the next decade.