Can Oral Sex Cause Cancer? Hollywood Actor Believes So
You may think that oral sex is a healthy part of your sexual health and wellness, but could it actually be putting your wellbeing at risk of cancer? In a recent interview with The Guardian, the actor Michael Douglas discussed his recent throat cancer treatment, and revealed that he blamed oral sex for his condition.
Even though Douglas has spent many years engaging in heavy drinking and smoking, when asked if these were the causes of his throat cancer, he replied ‘No, because without wanting to get too specific this particular cancer is caused by HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus.’ Since then, Douglas has updated his comments, asserting that he didn’t think oral sex had caused his throat cancer specifically, but rather he was trying to explain some of the causes of oral cancer in general. Yet the question remains; could oral sex lead to cancer?
Of the 100 types of the human papilloma virus (HPV), 40 can affect the genital area. HPV affects your skin and the moist membranes lining your body, for example, in your cervix, anus, mouth and throat. As a result, it is easily spread by sexual activity, and as many as half of us will be infected at some time in their life. Your immune system tends to get rid of the infection in most cases, but sometimes the infection wins out, and causes health problems. High-risk types of the virus can cause abnormal tissue growth and trigger the onset of cancer.
HPV infection has been linked to cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, vulval cancer, anal cancer, cancer of the penis and some cancers of the head and neck, as well as verrucas, skin warts and genital warts. While condom use can reduce your risk of HPV infection, as condoms do not cover the entire genital area and are often put on after sexual contact has begun, they do not always guarantee protection against the spread of HPV. Given the available evidence, it is impossible to say whether or not oral sex caused Michael Douglas’s cancer. However, based on the risk factors for these types of cancer, his years of smoking and drinking could well have played a significant part, as these are the two biggest risk factors for the