The Marquee Blog

Michael Douglas clarifies comment about oral sex and cancer

Yes, oral sex can lead to cancer - and that's really all Michael Douglas wanted you to know.

The 68-year-old actor seemed to assert in an interview with the U.K.'s Guardian that HPV (the human papillomavirus) contracted through oral sex led to his throat cancer diagnosis in 2010.

Except, as Douglas clarified at an event in New York Monday night, he was simply saying that HPV could cause oral cancer ... not that it was the case for him, specifically.

"I've become, I think, in the past 24 hours a sort of poster boy for oral cancer," Douglas said while speaking as an honoree at an American Cancer Society event, the New York Daily News reports.

"And just so we all understand," Douglas continued, "I think we would all love to know where our cancer comes from. I simply, to a reporter, tried to give a little PSA announcement about HPV, a virus that can cause oral cancer, and is one of the few areas of cancer that can be controlled and there are vaccinations that kids can get. So that was my attempt."

Basically, he echoed what his rep said on Monday - that Douglas was pointing out the various possibilities that could lead to a cancer diagnosis, rather than saying what the specific cause was for him.

The Guardian, meanwhile, has published an audio clip and transcript of its interview with the actor, in which Douglas said he didn't think he "overloaded his system" with drinking or smoking. "No, no .... [W]ithout getting too specific, this particular cancer is caused by something called HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus."

Whatever caused the tumor that doctors found in Douglas' throat three years ago, two things are clear: one, that he's since beaten the disease, as he said in 2011; and two, he can consider his awareness campaign a mission accomplished.