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.
Here in the UK, the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) strives to raise awareness of the connection between HPV and throat cancer via November’s Mouth Cancer Action month. Chief executive Nigel Carter has, over the years, campaigned hard to include boys in the national vaccination drive currently given only to girls, mainly to protect them against cervical cancer.
A poll carried out by the BDHF ahead of last year’s Mouth Cancer Action Month revealed that one in five parents have no intention of providing sex education to their children.
The study suggested that too many parents and young people are unaware of HPV with only one in 20 respondents identified HPV as a cause of mouth cancer transmitted via oral sex.
The survey questioned both parents with children aged 12 to 16, as well as young people aged 12 to 16.
The findings suggest that the current sex education curriculum in schools may need to be reviewed to ensure greater awareness and discussion of HPV.
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.