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Can HPV Cause Throat Cancer?

Actor Michael Douglas poses for photographers during a photo call for the film Behind the Candelabra at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Tuesday, May 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Actor Michael Douglas poses for photographers during a photo call for the film Behind the Candelabra at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Tuesday, May 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

The actor Michael Douglas is receiving rave reviews for his portrayal of Liberace in Stephen Soderbergh’s new film, “Behind the Candelabra.” But on Monday Douglas made even bigger headlines when he made an interesting claim about what caused the throat cancer he was diagnosed with in 2010 — oral sex.

We ask an expert to weigh in.

Guest

Carey Goldberg, co-host, WBUR’s Commonhealth

Dr. Robert Haddad, Disease Center leader of the Head and Neck Oncology Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

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Commonhealth: “Your first reaction may be suspicion that Douglas is trying to scapegoat sex when other factors could be to blame, particularly his past smoking. But in fact, a growing body of research suggests that his claim is not entirely far-fetched.”

The Guardian: “The throat cancer, I assume, was first seeded during those wild middle years, when he drank like a fish and smoked like the devil. Looking back, knowing what he knows now, does he feel he overloaded his system? ‘No,’ he says. ‘No. Because, without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus.’ ”

 


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