Michael Douglas went viral earlier this week when he brought up a sexually transmitted disease in connection with his 2010 battle with cancer.
His representatives quickly addressed the statements that were made during an interview with The Guardian. The representatives told USA Today that Douglas was not talking specifically about his battle with cancer. Instead, he was simply making the connection between oral HPV and certain cancers.
We can speculate as much as we want, but we can’t know if oral HPV was the cause of Douglas’ cancer. However, we can thank him. We can thank him for bringing this issue to our attention. His comments draw attention to the little talked about fact that oral sex can cause oral cancers.
The link between oral sex and cancer isn’t new, but it still may catch some by surprise. It makes sense that drinking and smoking are risk factors associated with throat and oral cancers. But now, we see that throat cancers related to the sexually transmitted virus human papillomavirus (HPV) are becoming more common.
On the rise
The stats show that this connection is becoming an increasingly important issue. Reports show that the connection between oral HPV and throat cancer is on the rise. According to the CDC, the incidence rates for HPV-associated throat cancer among white men and women increased between 2000 and 2009. HPV-related throat cancers are more common in men than cervical cancer in women.
Who is at risk?
Throat cancers in the elderly are usually associated with smoking. The demographic that is being diagnosed with HPV-related cancers are younger. Adults ages 40 to 65 are the primary group developing cancer related to oral HPV.
Protect yourself: be aware
Since there is currently no test for oral HPV, how will you protect yourself? The HPV vaccine given to young men and women is a good step to reduce risk. For those not protected by the vaccine, the best way to reduce risk is to know the symptoms. Since this STD can be treated if detected early, its so important to pay attention to any potential symptoms. To reduce risk, remember to follow safe sex practices.
Learn more about HPV and how to prevent it.
Be aware of your cancer risk factors and test yourself for STDs.